©2007 Thomas Bissell; (P)2007 Recorded Books
"This humorous memoir, travelogue and accessible history...confirms Bissell's status as a rising star of American literature." (Publishers Weekly)
I selected this book because I am of the Vietnam era and wanted to better understand the war from the perspective of children whose parents served in the war. Although this book contains some information on that issue (roughly 15% or so), the bulk of this book is a social and political analysis of the war. So, if you are interested in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's long history of repulsing foreign invaders, the differences between North and South Vietnam, the leaders of N and S Vietnam, American policy towards Communism, American policy towards Vietnam, the horrors perpetrated by North Vietnam, the horrors perpetrated by South Vietnam, the horrors perpetrated by America, etc, etc, etc, than this is the book for you. Along the way, you will also learn about Bissell's father, his reaction to the war, and the torment he went through when Bissell took him to Vietnam in order to write an article about children whose parents served in Vietnam. By the end of the story, you feel sorry for the father because he had to put up with a son who is such a jerk.
That being said, this is a very well written book and I learned a lot. I have no regrets for having listened to the book - in spite of the fact that this book is not what is advertised. Fortunately, the last two chapters of the book are brief interviews (reenacted) with children whose parents served on both sides of the conflict. I had thought this book would have entirely focused on this type of content. By the end of the book I had a sense of fatigue, however, and I was glad when it was over. The narration is outstanding for the social and political analysis, but its documentary style (for lack of a better description) does not do the father-son dialog justice.
This is a book with a very concise and easily digested history of the Vietnam war, mixed with the impact the war had on the authors father and family.
I was a bit disappointed as I expected far more of the personal integration of the father into the war.
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