Friend or pho?: a Vietnam reading list you may not recognize
I asked my old friend Quang X. Pham, who left Vietnam as a refugee, then became a Marine pilot and later a successful executive and author, and who may run for Congress soon, for suggestions on a reading list about the Vietnam War. This is an unusual list. I’ve only read two of his selections. ...
I asked my old friend Quang X. Pham, who left Vietnam as a refugee, then became a Marine pilot and later a successful executive and author, and who may run for Congress soon, for suggestions on a reading list about the Vietnam War. This is an unusual list. I’ve only read two of his selections. I actually bought one of those, Sorrows of War, on a streetcorner in Hanoi, along with some bootlegs of Tom Waits CDs. Me: “Why do you have the complete works of Tom Waits for sale?”
Saleslady: “Tom Waits is very, very popular in Hanoi!” (Of course.)
By the time we landed back in the US of A, I’d finished the book, which was memorable.
Take it away, Quang:
- In the Jaws of History, Bui Diem, South Vietnam’s ambassador to the U.S. reflects on the diplomacy of the war
- Buddha’s Child, Nguyen Cao Ky, South Vietnam’s flamboyant Air Marshal/Vice President’s second memoir
- The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon, Lam Quang Thi
- Counterpart: A South Vietnamese Navy Officer’s War, Kiem Do
- Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War, James H. Willbanks
- A Gift of Barbed Wire: America’s Allies Abandoned in South Vietnam, Robert S. McKelvey, a Marine veteran of Vietnam who became a psychiatrist, interviews former detainees.
- Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN, Andrew Wiest (If you think the Americans did all the fighting and the U.S. Marines took Hue City, then read this 2007 book.)
- The Sorrows of War, Bao Ninh, fiction, a former North Vietnamese soldier writes about his experience in the American War
- A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction, a Vietnam vet writes first person accounts of Vietnamese refugees in New Orleans
- Fortunate Son, Lewis Puller, Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner for biography, the only son of the most famous Marine recalls the Vietnam War and its aftermath
Test on Tuesday.
Thomas E. Ricks is a former contributing editor to Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tomricks1
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