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11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

Erica Nelson works in marketing at Hachette Book Group.

The violence, tragedy, bravery, and loss of the Vietnam War has been memorialized in countless novels and works of nonfiction. The powerful words in these eleven books help us understand a complicated time in our recent history, and the political and personal legacy that it still carries.


The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this profound, startling, and beautifully crafted spy novel is the story of a man whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. An astute exploration of extreme politics, as well as a moving love story, THE SYMPATHIZER examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

The Sympathizer
Viet Thanh Nguyen

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this profound, startling, and beautifully crafted spy novel is the story of a man whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. An astute exploration of extreme politics, as well as a moving love story, THE SYMPATHIZER examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

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The Given World
by Marian Palaia

From a quiet family farm in Montana in the ’60s, to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the ’70s, to a gypsy-populated post-war Saigon, THE GIVEN WORLD spins around its unconventional heroine, whose brother has gone missing in Vietnam.

The Given World
Marian Palaia

From a quiet family farm in Montana in the ’60s, to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the ’70s, to a gypsy-populated post-war Saigon, THE GIVEN WORLD spins around its unconventional heroine, whose brother has gone missing in Vietnam.

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11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

By Erica Nelson | May 26, 2016

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The Things They Carried
by Tim O' Brien
A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene in 1990, THE THINGS THEY CARRIED is a groundbreaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling as written by a Vietnam veteran.
The Things They Carried
Tim O' Brien

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In Country
by Bobbie Ann Mason
The bestselling novel and deeply affecting story of a young girl who comes to terms with her father’s death in Vietnam two decades earlier.
In Country
Bobbie Ann Mason

Set in rural Kentucky more than a decade after the end of the Vietnam War, Sam Hughes— the teenage daughter of a soldier who didn’t make it home—seeks out meaning and purpose from the war that took her father.

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Matterhorn
by Karl Marlantes

A visceral and spellbinding novel by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, MATTERHORN tells the story of one young man at war, but transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice.

Matterhorn
Karl Marlantes

A visceral and spellbinding novel by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, MATTERHORN tells the story of one young man at war, but transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice.

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They Marched Into Sunlight
by David Maraniss
THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT is the epic history of the Vietnam era told through the events of a few gripping, passionate days of war and peace in October 1967. It explores questions about the meaning of dissent and the official manipulation of truth—issues as relevant today as they were decades ago.

They Marched Into Sunlight
David Maraniss

Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Maraniss tells the epic story of Vietnam and the 1960s through the events of a few gripping, passionate days in October 1967, including the student riot at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, when protesters tried to stop Dow Chemical, the maker of napalm, from recruiting on campus.

Read the full review of THEY MARCHED INTO SUNLIGHT here.

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The Barracks Thief
by Tobias Wolff

Three young paratroopers waiting to be shipped out are brought together one sweltering afternoon to stand guard over an ammunition dump threatened by a forest fire. They emerge from their common danger full of confidence in their manhood and in the friendship they have formed.

The Barracks Thief
Tobias Wolff

Three young paratroopers waiting to be shipped out are brought together one sweltering afternoon to stand guard over an ammunition dump threatened by a forest fire. They emerge from their common danger full of confidence in their manhood and in the friendship they have formed.

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Last Night I Dreamed of Peace
by Dang Thuy Tram

Brutally honest and rich in detail, this posthumously published diary of a twenty-seven-year-old Vietcong woman, saved from destruction by an American soldier, gives us fresh insight into the lives of those fighting on the other side of the Vietnam War.



Last Night I Dreamed of Peace
Dang Thuy Tram

Brutally honest and rich in detail, this posthumously published diary of a twenty-seven-year-old Vietcong woman, saved from destruction by an American soldier, gives us fresh insight into the lives of those fighting on the other side of the Vietnam War.



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11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

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The Lotus Eaters
by Tatjana Soli

In the final days of a falling Saigon, THE LOTUS EATERS unfolds the story of three remarkable photographers brought together under the impossible umbrella of war. All three become transformed by the conflict they have risked everything to record.

The Lotus Eaters
Tatjana Soli

In the final days of a falling Saigon, THE LOTUS EATERS unfolds the story of three remarkable photographers brought together under the impossible umbrella of war. All three become transformed by the conflict they have risked everything to record.

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All the President's Men
by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Published just months before President Nixon’s resignation, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN revealed the full scope of the Watergate scandal and introduced for the first time the mysterious “Deep Throat.” Woodward and Bernstein’s explosive reports won a Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post, toppled the president, and have since inspired generations of reporters.

All the President's Men
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein

Published just months before President Nixon’s resignation, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN revealed the full scope of the Watergate scandal and introduced for the first time the mysterious “Deep Throat.” Woodward and Bernstein’s explosive reports won a Pulitzer Prize for The Washington Post, toppled the president, and have since inspired generations of reporters.

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11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

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Born on the Fourth of July
by Ron Kovic

This New York Times bestseller details the author’s life story (portrayed by Tom Cruise in the Oliver Stone film version) from a patriotic soldier in Vietnam, to his severe battlefield injury, to his role as the country's most outspoken anti–Vietnam War advocate.

Born on the Fourth of July
Ron Kovic

This New York Times bestseller details the author’s life story (portrayed by Tom Cruise in the Oliver Stone film version) from a patriotic soldier in Vietnam, to his severe battlefield injury, to his role as the country's most outspoken anti–Vietnam War advocate.

MENTIONED IN:

11 Powerful Books That Explore the Legacy of the Vietnam War

By Erica Nelson | May 26, 2016

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