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Publisher's Summary

Bao Ninh, a former North Vietnamese soldier, provides a strikingly honest look at how the Vietnam War forever changed his life, his country, and the people who live there. Originally published against government wishes in Vietnam because of its nonheroic, nonideological tone, The Sorrow of War has won worldwide acclaim and become an international best seller.

©1991 Bao Ninh (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An unputdownable novel. It should win the Pulitzer Prize." ( The Guardian)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My dead former enemy was speaking to me!

In May,1968, I was a 22 year old Marine infantry platoon commander. After one particular firefight I was searching the pockets of a dead NVA soldier looking for items of intelligence value like a diary. In the pockets of this one soldier I found a diary, a fountain pen, and then a photo which took my breath away. It showed him with his wife and two little kids, all smiling happily. I looked back at his expressionless face and, in my mind, spoke to him, saying,”I’m sorry you had to die today. Neither of us wanted to be here. I too have a wife and hope someday to have children like you.” Then the awfulness of the war washed over me. I’ve thought often about that brave former enemy. When I read “The Sorrow of War” I felt that it was him finally answering me, especially in this one passage:
“...he knew it wasn’t true that young Vietnamese loved war. Not true at all. If war came they would fight, and fight courageously. But that didn’t mean they loved fighting.
No. The ones who loved war were not the young men but the others like the politicians, middle-aged men with fat bellies and short legs. Not the ordinary people. The recent years of war had brought them enough suffering and pain to last them a thousand years.”
This book brought me a great deal of peace. I visited Vietnam a year ago. I wished I could bring my former foe back to life so we could be friends. That wish too is part of the sorrow of war.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An amazing book. I have read so many books from another perspective and this one blew my mind.

This book is in the same league as All Quiet on the Western Front and even Forgotten Soldier. It was a far more coherent version of The things we carried and the prose if this book kept me glued to every word. A real classic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book -- touching narration

Would you listen to The Sorrow of War again? Why?

This is a hard book to digest in just one hearing or reading. It is profoundly sad and it is also a complex story.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Sorrow of War?

The train ride to the front line is haunting. Many things happen to the main character and his girlfriend -- mostly all bad.

Which character – as performed by James Langton – was your favorite?

Langton does a great job of switching to a female/lighter voice that permits suspended disbelief when he portrays females and some of the younger or weaker soldiers.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

The negative impact of war is greatly underestimated.

Any additional comments?

Especially interesting for Americans to hear the North Vietnamese perspective.

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Wow! <br />

I wish everyone could read this book. strangely enough I was reading it while watching Ken Burns Vietnam. the words of the author we're in perfect harmony with the words of our own soldiers

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the book is interesting, but hard to follow

This is an interesting book, sometimes hard to follow. As you get towards the end you start to understand, locking in all of your interest.