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Publisher's Summary

Frances FitzGerald's landmark history of Vietnam and the Vietnam War, "A compassionate and penetrating account of the collision of two societies that remain untranslatable to one another." (New York Times Book Review)

This magisterial work, based on Frances FitzGerald's many years of research and travels, takes us inside the history of Vietnam - the traditional, ancestor-worshiping villages, the conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists, Catholics and Buddhists, generals and monks, the disruption created by French colonialism, and America's ill-fated intervention - and reveals the country as seen through Vietnamese eyes.

Originally published in 1972, Fire in the Lake was the first history of Vietnam written by an American, and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the National Book Award. With a clarity and insight unrivaled by any author before it or since, Frances FitzGerald illustrates how America utterly and tragically misinterpreted the realities of Vietnam.

©1972, 2009 Frances FitzGerald (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Featured Article: The Best Vietnam War Audiobooks, Fiction and Nonfiction


Over the past four decades, many people have written about the Vietnam War in an effort to make sense of the raging debates, the staggering death and destruction, and the lingering trauma. History is often complicated, biased, or missing key information, especially when it comes to war. Arm yourself with comprehensive knowledge of the conflict with our selection of titles detailing the Vietnam War, from fiction to nonfiction, personal stories to histories.

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American Hubris; Vietnamese Misery

Anyone studying the Vietnamese War needs to read ‘Fire in the Lake’ to get the cultural and social trauma the Vietnamese endured while American white men desperately tried to keep the domino upright.
I am a Vietnam veteran. Hubris and misery go hand in hand.

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Comprehensive, Exceptional, Indispensable

This is a comprehensive historical, political, social, and strategic review. I’ve read a fair bit about the war and this is the best, by far. It is brilliant and damning. It is almost incredible that it was written so early, published in 1972.