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The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam Paperback – April 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Yet, The Sorrow of War is different. First published in 1991, the book was a best seller in Vietnam - even though the communist party banned it. In reading the novel, the reason eventually becomes subtly obvious as the glorious struggle is painted in more realistic colors.
The author, Bao Ninh, was born in Hanoi in 1952, and he was one of only ten survivors of the 27th Youth Brigade during the conflict. In 1994, his work received the Independent Foreign fiction award. His fictional story unfolds in the Central Highlands where his main character, Kien, after years at war, is working in a Missing In Action Remains-Gathering Team. After that opening, there are no chapters, there is no coherent timeline, and there is no reference to much of anything but the simplest of human emotions.
At first, The Sorrow of War is strangely un-engaging. Honestly, I considered putting the book down several times early on in my reading. However, Bao Ninh does have something worth saying that is not explicitly spelled out in any of the pages as we aimlessly follow Kien in his memory of the war.
This book is not an easy read. The timeline shifts and changes without warning, and it is up to the reader to get into the head of a man who is severely damaged by the war and its apparent total destruction of his life. But, it is worth the effort.Read more ›
"The Sorrow of War" is a book that's not so much read as experienced. There is no escaping the intensity and naked reality presented. The author is a survivor of the American War who fought in the North Vietnamese Army, but Bao Ninh is kind to neither the North Vietnamese Army nor the Americans and its allies. There's no romanticism in this novel, only honesty.
Originally banned by the Communist government, the book proved so popular that the government reconsidered and lifted the ban. It's now a national treasure.
In my next life, when I'm a teacher, I will assign this to my class to be read back-to-back with Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried". These books could stop a war.
Although all life is irreplacible, the fact remains that the United States lost fewer than a million men in the Vietnam conflict and their social institutions and infrastructure remained relatively intact. The Vietnamese, however, lost two million men and their culture, society, landscape and tradition were literally obliterated. Despite this destruction, their side of this horrendous story has seldom been told. Worse yet, when it is told, they are often portrayed in the most unattractive of all light. Until only a few years ago, the Vietnamese were portrayed by the media as a faceless people with no identity; entities not worth caring about. The turning point came with the publication, in Dutch, of Duong Thu Huong's Blind Paradise in 1994. This landmark book was followed by Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War.
War novels deal, superficially, with war. But underneath all the blood and horror and carnage lie far deeper social and human issues. The best novels of war, such as Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls, as well as Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War, also deal with the makeup and morality of a culture or a society gone wrong. The protagonist of these books, whether real or fictional, often endures a harrowing personal struggle through both a public and private hell and usually undergoes some sort of redemption, even if that redemption results in death.
Born in 1952, Bao Ninh served in the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade during the Vietnam conflict.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A first hand perspective on the Vietnam War that most Americans like myself have not heard. The book is based on the author's life before, during and just after his service in the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by S1F
This is a great work detailing the struggles of a Vietnamese soldier during the Vietnam war. Sometimes hard to get through because of subject matter and the fact that the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Naomi Moran
I rad this book for a paper on Vietnam for one of my Anthropology papers. It was the first foreign war book I've read. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Derek
As a Vietnam vet with multiple tours in-country, I found this to be a bit haunting.Published 3 months ago by Jim
A common sense judgement mandates both sides of the situation. This book is a rare treat and the author talented. Unfortunately, many may not appreciate this man's work.Published 3 months ago by Stephen Cheng
The Sorrow of War is an important book. The author, Bao Ninh, was a young soldier in the Viet Cong army. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ms Abigail Bolland
I picked it up for class, although I'd recommend it as a leisure read if you're looking for something with substance.Published 4 months ago by Amazon reader
Mesmerizing and well-written love and war "memoir" of North Vietnamese soldier of the Vietnam war. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Green Dragon USA