May 11, 2017

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Review

Forty plus years after the U.S. abandoned Vietnam to the Communists, Viet Thanh Nguyen captures the duplicity of all sides during the Vietnam war and its aftermath in his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Sympathizer. Reading Nguyen reinforces my belief that I was on the right side in the 1960s when I joined the anti-war movement before it imploded in the 1970s, exhibiting similar excesses to those perpetrated by the North Vietnamese (and Cambodians) on their own people. The American anti-war movement morphed into an anti-American movement with groups like the post-SDS Weather Underground waging war on the American working class for failure to take up arms against the American government. In Vietnam, the victorious Communists subjugated anyone and everyone […]
January 27, 2015

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Writing about the Unimaginable

In his award-winning book on the War in Vietnam,The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien blends fact with fiction because as he confesses “it’s difficult to separate what happened from what seemed to happen . . . there is always that surreal seemingness, which makes the story seem untrue, but which in fact represents the hard and exact truth as it seemed.” Ishmael Beah’s 2007 memoir A Long Way Gone has come under scrutiny. Some challenge the time period insisting he couldn’t have spent two years as a boy soldier; others question specific events, including when the attack on his village that killed his parents and sibliings occurred and the death of six people at the refugee camp where Beah was […]
February 10, 2014

Reviewing Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods

Every chair in the four-hundred plus seat auditorium on the campus of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL was filled, Saturday evening January 18, 2014 to hear a reading by Vietnam veteran and award-winning author Tim O’Brien. There was not a dry eye in the room when he finished his selection “How to Tell a True War Story” from The Things They Carried (1990). But, as O’Brien says “a true war story is never about war,” and not too long after The Things They Carried was published he came out with In the Lake of the Woods (1994) which is another war story that’s not about war. What it seems to be about is a woman who has gone missing […]
February 8, 2014

Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried: A Review

Vietnam is still with us in the sense that for some people how you view that war is a defining indicator of who you are. I did not go to Vietnam, and I was active in the anti-war movement in Albany, NY where I was living at the time, although I never joined in those protesters who harassed returning soldiers. That was wrong for a thousand reasons, starting with the fact that most of those soldiers were draftees and had not asked to go. Had I been drafted I would have faced the dilemma a young Tim O’Brien did in 1966––go in or go to Canada. I understand why some chose the latter, and I can’t say what I would […]