The Vietnam War has left many legacies. One of the very positive is plenty of top-notch books, many written by specialists of this battle. These include winners of National Book awards and Pulitzer Prizes, both fiction and nonfiction. A slew of war memoirs stands together with the top Vietnam war books of this genre.
In the brief history of Vietnam War literature, publishers could barely touch a book on the war before the late 1970s and early 1980s-part of their self-induced national amnesia about that battle and its results. After sufficient time had elapsed to facilitate some of the war’s most psychic wounds, we all watched a miniature explosion of significant books. The majority of the novels on these, entirely subjective, listing the best 31 fiction and nonfiction titles, came out from the late 70s and throughout the 80s.
By requirement, compilations of the type omit worthy titles. Nevertheless, the publications below will be the cream of the crop among the thousands composed about America’s most contentious global warfare. They’re presented randomly within the classes of nonfiction and fiction.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top Rated Best Vietnam War Books To Read
- 2 Fiction
- 2.1 Dirty Work by Larry Brown
- 2.2 The Quiet American by Graham Greene
- 2.3 The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford
- 2.4 Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
- 2.5 Fatal Light by Richard Currey, 1988
- 2.6 Fields Of Fire by James Webb, 1978
- 2.7 Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien, 1978
- 2.8 Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann, 1987
- 2.9 The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien
- 2.10 Saigon by Anthony Grey
- 2.11 1968 by Joe Haldeman
- 3 Nonfiction
- 3.1 365 Days by Ronald Glasser, MD
- 3.2 Goodbye Vietnam by William Broyles
- 3.3 Bloods: An Oral History Of The Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry
- 3.4 Fire In The Lake: The Vietnamese And The Americans In Vietnam by Frances Fitzgerald
- 3.5 When Heaven And Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip With Jay Wurts
- 3.6 The Pentagon Papers Edited by George C. Herring
- 3.7 A Journey of Body And Soul by Trach Ba Vu
- 3.8 The Best And The Brightest by David Halberstam
- 3.9 On The Frontlines Of The Television War by Yasutsune Hirashiki
- 3.10 Home Before Morning: The Story Of An Army Nurse In Vietnam by Lynda Van Devanter
- 3.11 Street Without Joy: Indochina At War, 1946-54 by Bernard Fall
- 3.12 In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories Of The Lost War by Tobias Wolff
- 3.13 America’s Longest War: The United States And Vietnam, 1950-1975 by George Herring, 1978
- 3.14 A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo
- 3.15 A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann America In Vietnam by Neil Sheehan, 1988
- 3.16 Chickenhawk by Robert Mason, 1983
- 3.17 Fortunate Son: The Healing Of A Vietnam Vet by Lewis B. Puller Jr.,1991
- 3.18 They Marched Into Sunlight: War And Peace, Vietnam And America, October 1967 by David Maraniss, 2003
- 4 Children’s and Middle Grade
Top Rated Best Vietnam War Books To Read
The Vietnam War has invaded, altered, and inspired countless writers and art professionals. While the record of novels concerning this battle includes numerous educational functions, Pennbook selects ten of the most significant texts offering illuminating views on the war, its context, and its consequences on Vietnam.
Dirty Work by Larry Brown
This bit of short fiction is composed almost entirely in dialogues and monologues involving two seriously injured Marines in Vietnam. Although not in Vietnam, the writer failed to serve in the Marines and informs a compelling narrative of this dialogue between the guys in a veteran’s hospital. Though not more than their words and ideas, the writer produces a strong story about battle outcomes.
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
A review in The New York Times in 1956 maintained that Greene’s book about Vietnam had personalities that stood for countries and political factions instead of because of their men and women. Greene’s decision appears that America was a somewhat “innocent” country that didn’t know the folks it had been fighting against or with. Frequently mentioned as one of the most beautiful Vietnam war novels, it’s also among the very advocated in Greene’s vast body of work.
The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford
It is unlikely you have heard of this Short-Timers, a publication that is now out of print, but you could have heard of the film based on Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Hasford composed this semi-autobiographical book about his adventures in Vietnam and planned it for a trilogy of all Vietnam war novels. His death soon following the publication of this 2nd publication prevented these programs from coming to fruition.
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
Winner of the 1974 National Book Award for Fiction, Dog Soldiers, is a narrative of the Vietnam War and drug smuggling. Frequently compared to Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway, and mostly considered among the most beautiful Vietnam books, Stone centers on two figures, one of whom is a sailor traveling home from Vietnam. Another is a war correspondent. Both suffer considerably during the publication.
Fatal Light by Richard Currey, 1988
This one-of-a-kind Vietnam narrative, the first publication of a former Navy corpsman, reads like a set of attached, finely composed short stories. Dozens of very brief chapters are introduced in a jumpy, fragmented, staccato rhythm. In this manner, Currey convincingly and stylishly spills from the shocking tale of the anonymous narrator who travels through a harrowing tour of duty as a combat medic.
Currey skillfully shows this everyman soldier’s diverse and intense feelings. He helps readers comprehend what it was like to go to war in Vietnam, feel the warmth physically and emotionally, then come home and attempt to create a sense of what took place.
Fields Of Fire by James Webb, 1978
In his very first publication Webb, a former Marine first lieutenant and later U.S. senator, developed a plot which follows the outline of a traditional war narrative: An American platoon, together with representative members of different races, ethnicities, and segments of the nation, undergoes a hellacious period at the war zone.
However, Webb tells the story without resorting to clichés, along with his persuasive writing, clearly reveals what the war was like for people in the bush. “In quick, flexible prose that does whatever he asks it,” Newsweek magazine said. “Webb gives us an extraordinary assortment of mathematically observed individuals, not just a stereotype, as well as many distinct methods of looking at this miserable war. Fields of Fire is a stunner.”
Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien, 1978
O’Brien’s ambitious first novel, a National Book Award winner, is a journey of magic realism found through the eyes of draftee Paul Berlin. Personal Cacciato, an off-kilter member of the firm, decides to depart Vietnam and walk into Paris. The platoon follows him. O’Brien “opened a doorway for the rest of us to stroll by demonstrating how it had been likely to inform deeper truths about war. And warfare dreadful and lasting consequences by enabling the creativity to construct the dynamics of this narrative and fill in the gaps of memory,” wrote poet and Vietnam veteran Bruce Weigl.
Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann, 1987
Heinemann’s next literary work, Paco’s Story, a biting narrative of the Vietnam War’s psychological aftermath, won the National Book Award for fiction. Heinemann bore to the head of this publication’s antihero, Paco Sullivan, as he fought with his private demons following duty in Vietnam. He left him seriously injured -and the only survivor in his fridge.
“Heinemann’s genius is if Paco’s world paths to the romantic, he flings us back into Vietnam. The firefight that killed all Paco’s platoon, the months at the hospital on different pain-killing medications,” one reviewer wrote, “and the anodyne of this gift became warranted and sensible. Also, the story of one abandoned, generic GI at [a] nondescript city…becomes a portion of their local lore.”
The Things They Carried By Tim O’Brien
Writer Tim O’Brien was among the seven members of the Alpha Company, a team that he portrays in this New York Times bestseller. Drafted as young men, every one of these would suffer the hardships of a soldier’s lifetime and take those memories long after the war finished. At this time, a moving account of the Vietnam War and a meditation on the ability of the human soul, The Things They Carried, was a classic of American literature since its publication in 1990.
Saigon by Anthony Grey
Through the first half of the 20th century, the Vietnamese bucked from their French colonial rulers. Saigon depicts the tensions between those two Nordic countries, centering on Joseph-an American attracted to the nation first by his father, then by duct than by fiction, and by love. The history of Saigon unfolds as Joseph’s story progresses, constituting the capital community in the 1920s through 1975 when it’s meltdown brought an end to the war.
1968 by Joe Haldeman
After being injured in the war, John “Spider” Speidel returns home to a catastrophic diagnosis and a transformed girlfriend. In Spider’s lack, Beverly has not just taken up with another guy but currently protests the cause Spider fought. Through the lens of Spider’s heartbreak and irreparable injury, readers have come to know America because it had been in 1968: a country was shaken with a sexual revolution, the Civil Rights Movement was.
365 Days by Ronald Glasser, MD
Back in 1968, Dr. Ronald Glasser came to Camp Zuma amid chaos. As one of the few Army camps in Japan, Zuma’s beds were rare -assisting hands, much more -and Glasser was faced with the gruesome reality of war: nobody, not the wealthy, was spared by the violence. In his memoir, Glasser relays the tales of these patients he treated, shedding light on not merely the physical tolls of warfare but also the psychological costs.
Goodbye Vietnam by William Broyles
Before he penned the screenplays for Jarhead and Castaway, a youthful William Broyles enlisted to serve in the Vietnam War. Over a decade after, he returned to his former battlegrounds and listed his trip at Goodbye Vietnam. From his experiences with ex-Vietnamese soldiers to interviews with sufferers of his violence, Broyles’ memoir is a reminder of how the brotherhood of man may conquer death, bloodshed, and hatred.
Bloods: An Oral History Of The Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry
American troops in Vietnam had lots of obstacles, and Dark American soldiers in Vietnam had more. This is among those Vietnam war novels that cover the principles in fantastic detail. For instance, that black soldier composed almost one-quarter of those deaths in the first couple of years of this war and the discrimination that they faced in decorations, responsibility assignments, and promotions. That is an oral history of what it was like for a black man to serve his nation in Vietnam and his adventures coming home.
Fire In The Lake: The Vietnamese And The Americans In Vietnam by Frances Fitzgerald
Authored by journalist Frances FitzGerald, the accounts of Vietnam, its history, and also the ramifications of its war with the United States wavered on the bestseller list for at least fourteen days. It went on to acquire several prestigious awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction, Nathe Nationalook Award, and the Bancroft Prize.
Considered the first significant publication on the Vietnam War composed by an American, it highlighted just how small the United States knew about the nation, its leaders, and its own culture before invading.
When Heaven And Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip With Jay Wurts
The narrative of Hayslip that grew up in Vietnam during the Vietnam War is intense, romantic, and finally, human. It is the story of Vietnam’s devastation and self-destruction, as seen through the eyes of a girl who was a woman growing up in a neighborhood and household contested by war, that, as a teenager, became a refugee at Saigon alive among both the American and South Vietnamese soldiers. That is a story of heartbreak and the hunt for the will to endure and is among the very recommended Vietnam memoirs.
The Pentagon Papers Edited by George C. Herring
The famous Pentagon Papers comprised classified files around U.S. policymaking from 1950 to 1968. Edited with a respected Vietnam historian, this edition contains a comparatively short and manageable flavor of their most important data.
A Journey of Body And Soul by Trach Ba Vu
The story of Anna Vu, as advised by her dad, this biography contains the adversity and poverty of growing up in Vietnam, coupled with all the woman’s dreams of growing up to be a physician. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1975 and faces distinct challenges as Anna becomes the victim of unfair and unjust bias and stereotypes. This inspirational story is equal to portions of angering and education.
The Best And The Brightest by David Halberstam
For those searching to get Vietnam war novels to understand the United States entered the Vietnam War in the first place, there might be no more magnificent publication than Halberstam’s. Released in 1972, it details how the U.S.’s foreign policy institution worked at the moment. He makes a solid case for the concept that bureaucratic considerations were more critical to lawmakers than common-sense proposals.
On The Frontlines Of The Television War by Yasutsune Hirashiki
The author spent ten years in Vietnam, beginning in 1966 when he traveled there as a freelancer, and remained through Saigon’s fall in 1975. This Vietnam memoir incorporates exciting stories, close calls, and combat memories. However, it concentrates on the soldiers’ narrative that fought and fought, in addition to the reporters and photographers who traveled together. Hirashiki is considered one of the excellent novels on war journalism.
Home Before Morning: The Story Of An Army Nurse In Vietnam by Lynda Van Devanter
Widely considered to be not just among the most excellent Vietnam war novels, but among the most beautiful Vietnam memoirs out of a female veteran, Van Devanter didn’t shy away from brilliant descriptions of those dying. He wounded men she encountered as a nurse in the 71st Evacuation Hospital from 1969 to 1970. The publication covers her struggles both in warfare and in coming home, and her ultimate founding of the Women Veterans Project in Vietnam Veterans of America.
Street Without Joy: Indochina At War, 1946-54 by Bernard Fall
Fall functioned on the side of the French Resistance in World War II, and later part of the U.S. Army. Through the 1950s and 60s, he was considered to be among the preeminent scholars of the Indochina War, which caused the conclusion of Vietnam’s status as a French colony. Before being murdered in Vietnam in 1967, he wrote eight novels that lots of claims are a few of the most excellent history books about the French War and the beginnings of the Vietnam War. The job also contained a damning warning regarding what the U.S. army would confront, much of that came to pass.
In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories Of The Lost War by Tobias Wolff
Deciding where Wolff’s favorite memoir This Boy’s Life leaves away, In Pharaoh’s Army starts when Wolff spent annually studying Vietnamese, discovered to become a paratrooper, and was finally stationed together with the South Vietnamese Army. He was along throughout the Tet Offensive, and this memoir contains memories of the struggle and many others. It moved on to become one of the Vietnam war novels for a finalist for the National Book Award in the nonfiction category.
America’s Longest War: The United States And Vietnam, 1950-1975 by George Herring, 1978
This publication is broadly regarded as the best concise history of the Vietnam War. Herring, a former University of Kentucky history professor, covers nearly every major event in the battle, presenting the war and analyzing its heritage. Revised and updated through time, America’s Longest War can be employed in several college courses on the Vietnam War.
A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo
The 40th-anniversary Variant of This classic Vietnam memoir-featured in the PBS documentary series The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick-Using a new foreword from Kevin Powers.
In March of 1965, Lieutenant Philip J. Caputo landed at Danang using the first ground combat unit deployed to Vietnam. Sixteen months after, having served online in one of modern history’s ugliest wars, he returned home-physically whole but mentally wasted, his young idealism eternally gone.
A Rumor of War is a lot more than one soldier’s narrative. Upon its publication in 1977, it shattered America’s indifference to these men’s fate sent to combat in the jungles of Vietnam. In recent years since it has become not just a simple text about the Vietnam War but also a renowned classic in the literature of wars throughout history and, as the writer writes, of “what men do in war and the things war does to them.”
“Heartbreaking, frightening, and enraging. It goes back to the literature of men at war.” – Los Angeles Times Book Review
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann America In Vietnam by Neil Sheehan, 1988
Former New York Times correspondent Neil Sheehan spent 16 years working on a magisterial examination of the life of legendary Army Colonel John Paul Vann and American participation in Vietnam. A tour de force of reporting, research, writing, and analysis, A Bright Shining Lie received the National Book Award for nonfiction and the Pulitzer for general nonfiction.
Sheehan’s anger about what occurred “infuses extraordinary descriptive passages of conflict, the machinations of perplexed or venal guys in Washington and Saigon, and over all the accounts of this guy who functions as both his own hero and antihero.” Wrote historian Ronald Steel, including, “If there’s one book that catches the Vietnam War at the utter Homeric scale of its fire and folly, this book is it.”
Chickenhawk by Robert Mason, 1983
Here really is the definitive memoir concerning the helicopter war in Vietnam. Mason’s penetrating look at his 1965-66 excursion as a Huey pilot at the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) includes reconstructed dialog, which functions nicely in depictions of the most dangerous paths zooming in and out of hot landing zones. There’s very little glamour: Though Mason recounts the enormous -and occasionally senseless-threats his fellow Huey pilots shot nearly every day, he also describes his gradual disillusionment with the war.
Fortunate Son: The Healing Of A Vietnam Vet by Lewis B. Puller Jr.,1991
The writer, a first lieutenant in Vietnam and son of legendary Marine General Lewis “Chesty” Puller in the World War II and Korea eras won a Pulitzer for this memoir. Puller tells his life story in a simple, reflective fashion. He joined the Marines after graduating from school in 1967, and under a year, he had been in the thick of the fighting. He stepped on a booby trap and lost both arms and parts of the hands. Puller recovered, went into law school, got married, and fathered two kids.
This impressive tale is written intelligently with penetration without self-pity. Regardless of the uplifting message of this book, the distress inflicted by the war finally overwhelmed Puller. He committed suicide in 1994.
They Marched Into Sunlight: War And Peace, Vietnam And America, October 1967 by David Maraniss, 2003
They Marched Into Sunlight acquired a Pulitzer to get Maraniss, a former Washington Post journalist. A masterpiece of reporting and investigation, the book zeroes in on two notable but formerly under-examined events which happened at precisely the same period in October 1967: the decimation of a 1st Infantry Division battalion in South Vietnam and the violence at the University of Wisconsin campus in a protest against Dow Chemical Co. Maraniss’s demonstration of these events in Vietnam and Wisconsin is evenhanded, allowing the reader to judge who was right and wrong in the areas.
Children’s and Middle Grade
Patrol: An American Soldier In Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers
Winner of the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom Award also picked as a National Council for Social Studies Notable Book in 2003; this story/poem tells the story of a young soldier in Vietnam. He’s fearful, tired, and overlooks home. This emotionally charged narrative has universal themes that are most likely to interpret for many youngsters.
Little Cricket by Jackie Brown
Kia, a 12-year-old whose village was ruined by the North Vietnamese, is grieving her father’s disappearance while she and the rest of her loved ones are visiting a refuge. Part of this family immigrates into American, but Kia struggles with all the brand new culture and language, and the dividing of her loved ones.
Cracked! The Best Dog In Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata
A superb illustration of the fact that not all Vietnam war novels have to be gloomy, this uplifting story follows a military puppy unit puppy, which goes by the title of Cracker. He spends his days with his handler Rick, searching for booby traps; the narrative is told from Cracker’s and Rick’s perspectives. The actions are fast-paced, and this publication is a great choice to get children interested in history.
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