All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War--a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.Read more...
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War--a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.
From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms--novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more--Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one's own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the "enemy"--or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.
Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war's truth will be impossible to remember, and war's trauma impossible to forget.
- ISBN-13: 9780674660342
- ISBN-10: 067466034X
- Publisher: Harvard University Press
- Publish Date: April 2016
- Page Count: 384
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.24 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-05-16
- Reviewer: Staff
Vietnam-born, American-raised Nguyen (The Sympathizer), an associate professor of English and American Studies at the University of Southern California, sifts through the many guises of memory and identity in this eloquent, scholarly narrative of the Vietnam War's psychological impact on combatants and civilians. The Vietnamese who fled the battlefields have little choice but to be known by the carnage that brought them to the U.S. They grapple with their own painful memories, which shadow them or get pushed aside, while their descendants try to cope with elders refusing to share their recollections. Nguyen peruses death and destruction from multiple vantage points, including the killing caves where Vietnamese civilians were annihilated by American bombers and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. But this is primarily a work that comes to grips with memory and identity through the arts. Where literature and film have long been dominated by American works, Nguyen brilliantly introduces a pantheon of artists, including directors Dang Nhat Minh and Bui Thac Chuyen, and writers Le Ly Hayslip and Monique Truong. This is a difficult but rewarding read; Nguyen succeeds in delivering a potent critique of the war and revealing what the memories of living have meant for the identities of the next generation. (Apr.)