Vietnam War Remembered

By Mary Simon

This week Ken Burns and Lynn Novick launched a ten-part PBS film documentary series, The Vietnam War. For those of us who lived through this turbulent time, we look forward to seeing Ken Burn's take on a conflict which deeply divided the country. This list compiles fiction and nonfiction titles which deal with a range of issues relating to the war.

  • The Best We Could Do : An Illustrated Memoir

    2017 by Thi Bui

    Not just another immigrant story but one rich in details and nuance. The struggles and horrors of the Vietnam War remain a constant in Bui's new life in America, but she doesn't allow it to overcome her chance to strike out on a new trajectory, armed with the love and respect of her family.

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  • Enduring Vietnam : An American Generation and its War

    2017 by James Edward Wright

    This book will impress military historians as well as the average layperson. Deeply- and well-researched, it incorporates both primary and secondary sources to reflect the diplomatic, political, and cultural climate of the era. Also includes excellent, well-structured interviews with veterans and family members.

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  • The Vietnam War : The Definitive Illustrated History


    A coffee-table sized book, written by a group of historians in association with the Smithsonian Institution, concisely documents through photographs and illustrations, many political and military events associated with the Vietnam conflict.

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  • The Sympathizer

    2015 by Viet Thanh Nguyen

    This is one of my favorite post-Vietnam War novels because it is written from the perspective of an American- Vietnamese character. The author uses the format of a confession to tell his rich, tragicomic story. Complicated and dense, the Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

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  • Hûé 1968 : A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

    2017 by Mark Bowden

    In 1968 the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces attacked the ancient city of Hue. American and South Vietnamese troops sustained heavy losses. It was this battle that changed the direction of the war. Perhaps more importantly, Bowden believes the perspective of Americans would be changed forever—they would find it exceedingly difficult to ever trust their government again. This book is anecdotally rich with accounts of the complicated battle to take Hûé.

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  • Good Morning, Vietnam

    2006 by Barry Levinson

    Robin Williams stars in this humorous slant on life during the war. Portraying a sarcastic, sardonic disc-jockey, he certainly entertained the troops while annoying the heck out of the top commanders. Robin Williams at his best.

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  • Apocalypse Now Redux

    2010 by Francis Coppola

    Francis Ford Coppola's film is perhaps the best film about the Vietnam War and war in general. Inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, it depicts how officers and privates dealt with the horrors, brutality, and meaninglessness of the war. Marlon Brando's and Robert Duvall's performances are outstanding: nominated for multiple Academy and Golden Globe Awards.

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  • Vietnam War: Intimate History

    The research that went into this volume is astounding, as is the recapturing of memories of over 100 American and Viet Nam War survivors. Some fought in the war, many demonstrated against it. Hundreds of photographs, illustrations, and interviews comprise this text which is a companion piece to the documentary film.

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  • From Chicago to Vietnam : A Memoir of War

    An officer's perspective of his one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. Gritty, moving, and telling, this memoir of a young Chicagoan details the 1968 Tet Offensive from his (as well as his brother's) perspective. While performing his military service, Duffy like many Americans, longed to return to the US and assume his college studies. Upon his return he is met with indifference and scorn—something he never expected after serving his country.

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  • The Vietnam War

    2017 by Ken Burns

    More than 40 years have passed since the end of the Vietnam War. This documentary by legendary film director Burns, contains interviews conducted by Lynn Novick (Emmy and Peabody Awards winner) with 100 survivors of the war as well as rare photos, illuminating guest essays, and firsthand accounts of various offenses and strategic battles.

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  • A Rift In the Earth : Art, Memory, and the Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial

    2017 by James Reston

    Perhaps the most striking element on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is the Vietnam War Memorial with its huge, foreboding presence. James Reston, a military veteran as well as journalist, provides a backdrop on how the 1981 design competition process reflected the turbulent feelings aroused by the war itself.

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  • Vietnam War, The: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick Original Soundtrack (CD) [sound recording].


    This is the musical companion to the documentary series. The 37-track CD features a Beatles songs which is the first time a Beatles song has been included in a non-Beatles film. Other artists include Bob Dylan, Booker T and the MG's, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Howlin' Wolf, Marvin Gaye, Simon & Garfunkel, Cream, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, and many more.

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