5 Novels About Vietnam Veterans

5 Novels About Vietnam Veterans

These powerful novels about Vietnam veterans explore the changed lives of American soldiers who served during the Vietnam War.

1. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

“A classic work of American literature that has not stopped changing minds and lives since it burst onto the literary scene, The Things They Carried is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.”

2. Close Quarters by Larry Heinemann

“From the moment his first novel was published, Larry Heinemann joined the ranks of the great chroniclers of the Vietnam conflict–Philip Caputo, Tim O’Brien, and Gustav Hasford.In the stripped-down, unsullied patois of an ordinary soldier, draftee Philip Dosier tells the story of his war. Straight from high school, too young to vote or buy himself a drink, he enters a world of mud and heat, blood and body counts, ambushes and firefights. It is here that he embarks on the brutal downward path to wisdom that awaits every soldier.”

3. The Year of the Return by Nathaniel Popkin

“Set against the backdrop of 1976 Philadelphia, The Year of the Return follows the path of two families, the Jewish Silks and African American Johnsons, as they are first united by marriage and then by grief, turmoil, and the difficult task of trying to live in an America failing to live up to its ideals.kk

“Paul Silk and Charlene Johnson are journalists whose love for each other and commitment to social justice were formed in the peace movements of the 1960s. But the idealism of that era leads to the urban deterioration of the 1970s. Mayor Frank Rizzo’s Philadelphia is a place of crime, white flight, and class resentment that is inhospitable to their interracial marriage, forcing them to move away. But when Charlene dies of cancer, Paul returns.

“Unmoored and unable to let go of Charlene, he wades back into the lives of the two families, with the hope of helping Charlene’s younger brother Monte, once a prodigy and now a troubled veteran of the Vietnam War. Their explosive reunion leads to the baring of personal revelations and dangerous secrets.

The Year of the Return is a vivid story of families trying to reconnect with and support each other through trauma and loss, and a meditation on the possibility of moving on to a better future.”

4. Dog Soldiers by Robert Stone

“In Saigon during the waning days of the Vietnam War, a small-time journalist named John Converse thinks he’ll find action – and profit – by getting involved in a big-time drug deal. But back in the States, things go horribly wrong for him. Dog Soldiers perfectly captures the underground mood of America in the 1970s, when amateur drug dealers and hippies encountered profiteering cops and professional killers – and the price of survival was dangerously high.”

5. The Given World by Marian Palaia

“From a quiet family farm in Montana in the 60s to the grit and haze of San Francisco in the 70s to a gypsy-populated, post-war Saigon, The Given World spins around its unconventional and unforgettable heroine, Riley. When her big brother is declared MIA in Vietnam, young Riley packs up her shattered heart and leaves her family, her first love, and “a few small things” behind. By trial and error she builds a new life, working on cars, delivering newspapers, tending bar. She befriends, rescues, and is rescued by a similarly vagabond cast of characters whose ‘unraveled souls’ sting hardest and linger the longest.'”

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THE YEAR OF THE RETURN by Nathaniel Popkin