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Best Books on Vietnam War

Recommendations from 10 articles, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Jeremy Clarkson and 15 others.
34 books on the list
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The Things They Carried book cover
The Things They Carried
Tim O'Brien - 1998-12-29 (first published in 1990)
Goodreads Rating
This book takes readers on a journey through the lives of characters affected by the Vietnam War. Through a collection of fictional episodes, the story explores the childhoods of these characters, their time in the jungles of Vietnam, and their return to America twenty years later. The author's unique vision is showcased, making this both a compelling and thought-provoking read.
Recommended by
Caroline Paul
We Were Soldiers Once...And Young book cover
We Were Soldiers Once...And Young
Ia Drang The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam
Harold G. Moore - 2004-11-23 (first published in 1991)
Goodreads Rating
Experience one of the most savage and significant battles of the Vietnam War alongside 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry who were immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. General Moore and journalist Joseph Galloway, who was there during the fighting, interviewed hundreds of men who fought at Ia Drang Valley, including North Vietnamese commanders. We Were Soldiers Once...And Young offers a vivid portrait of war at its most inspiring and devastating, revealing man's most heroic and horrendous endeavor.
The Best and the Brightest book cover
The Best and the Brightest
David Halberstam - 1993-10-26 (first published in 1969)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the tragedy of the Vietnam War through the lens of America's flawed policy makers in this enthralling masterpiece. The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam delves deep into the forces that led America into the conflict and ultimately to defeat. Magnificently written and considered the definitive volume on the subject, this American classic is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand this pivotal moment in history.
Recommended by
Branko Milanovic
The Sorrow Of War book cover
The Sorrow Of War
A Novel of North Vietnam
Bao Ninh - 1996-04-01 (first published in 1987)
Goodreads Rating
A Vietnam War veteran's powerful memoir on the impact of the conflict on himself, his country, and its people. Banned in Vietnam upon release due to its unromanticized perspective, The Sorrow of War is now a world-renowned bestseller.
Fire in the Lake book cover
Fire in the Lake
The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
Frances Fitzgerald - 2002-07-17 (first published in 1972)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the rich and complex history of Vietnam in this landmark work. Frances FitzGerald offers a compassionate and penetrating account of the collision of two societies that remain untranslatable to one another. From traditional villages to conflicts between Communists and anti-Communists, this magisterial work takes readers inside Vietnam’s history, revealing the country from the perspective of its own people. Originally published in 1972 and the first of its kind, the book won the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the National Book Award. With unparalleled clarity and insight, FitzGerald illustrates how America misinterpreted the realities of Vietnam.
A Bright Shining Lie book cover
A Bright Shining Lie
John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
Neil Sheehan - 1989-09-19 (first published in 1988)
Goodreads Rating
This book is a passionate and epic account of the Vietnam War, focusing on Lt Col John Paul Vann. His story exposes America's failures and disillusionment in Southeast Asia. As a field adviser to the army when US involvement was just beginning, Vann became appalled by the corruption of the South Vietnamese regime and their incompetence in fighting the Communists. Finding his superiors too blinded by political lies to understand the truth of the war, he secretly briefed reporters such as Neil Sheehan. This book won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction.
Matterhorn book cover
A Novel of the Vietnam War
Karl Marlantes - 2009-04-01 (first published in 2010)
Goodreads Rating
A gripping war novel set in Vietnam, Matterhorn tells the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant and his comrades in Bravo Company who must fight their way into manhood. Facing not only the North Vietnamese, but also the harsh jungle terrain and their own demons, this epic tale of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice will leave a lasting impact. Written over thirty years by a highly decorated Marine veteran, Matterhorn is a visceral and unforgettable testament to the redemptive power of literature.
Recommended by
Jeremy Clarkson
Dispatches book cover
Michael Herr - 1991-08-06 (first published in 1977)
Goodreads Rating
"Dispatches" is a powerful and unforgettable firsthand account of the chaos and fervor of the Vietnam War. From its disturbing opening pages to its poignant conclusion, the book delves into the surreal insanity of life on the front lines. Michael Herr's unconventional retelling of day-to-day events in the combat zone reads like poetry, rendering clarity from one of the most incomprehensible and nightmarish events of our time. This classic war reportage is an uncompromising and compassionate account of one of the most unforgettable periods in modern history.
Recommended by
Mark Harris
A Rumor of War book cover
A Rumor of War
The Classic Vietnam Memoir (40th Anniversary Edition)
Philip Caputo - 2017-08-01 (first published in 1977)
Goodreads Rating
A Vietnam War memoir that is a renowned classic in the literature of wars throughout history. It shattered America's indifference to the fate of the men sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. The author's experience serving on the line for 16 months will leave you emotionally wasted but enlightened on the things men do in war and the things war does to them. Recently featured in the PBS documentary series The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
The Sympathizer book cover
The Sympathizer
A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)
Viet Thanh Nguyen - 2015-04-07
Goodreads Rating
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Sympathizer, follows the story of a communist sleeper agent, caught between loyalty to his country and his romantic ties, residing in America after the Vietnam War. As the agent infiltrates a group of South Vietnamese refugees settling in Los Angeles, he finds his ideals clash violently with his allegiance to those around him. This compelling spy novel tackles themes of love, friendship, and the impact of war on society.
Recommended by
Bill Gates
Cracker! book cover
Cynthia Kadohata - 2007-02-06
Fields of Fire by James Webb
Vietnam by Stanley Karnow
The Short-Timers by Hasford
Home before Morning by Lynda Van Devanter
Embers of War by Fredrik Logevall
The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong
The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Wall by Eve Bunting
Dereliction of Duty by H. R. McMaster
Street Without Joy by Bernard B. Fall
Bloods by Wallace Terry
Dirty Work by Larry Brown
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Making of a Quagmire by David Halberstam
The Vietnam Reader by
On the Frontlines of the Television War by Yasutsune Hirashiki
Patrol by Walter Dean Myers
Close Quarters by Larry Heinemann
An Intimate History of Killing by Joanna Bourke
Year of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins
Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone
Little Cricket by Jackie Brown