Dog Soldiers

By Robert Stone,

Book cover of Dog Soldiers

Book description

In Saigon during the last stages 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. His courier disappears, probably with his wife, and a…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Dog Soldiers as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book lays bare the furious tensions in American society during the Vietnam era. I have read it three times, and each time, it reveals new treasures and nuances.

It’s a dark story about a war correspondent who decides to get rich by smuggling heroin home from Vietnam. So, while it opens in Saigon, most of the book is set in a California riven by culture clashes and soured idealism. Stone is one of America’s best late-twentieth-century novelists.

From Max's list on 1960s counterculture.

This is my favorite novel. I read it every year or so, and each time, I feel like it makes my own writing better.

Set in the latter years of the Vietnam War, it tells the story of two friends—Converse, a war-traumatized journalist, and Hicks, a world-weary, cynical marine—who smuggle three kilos of heroin back to Berkeley, California.

I love the realism of this book, but it might be too brutal were it not tempered by how intelligent and sympathetic the main characters are, even when doing terrible things. The book feels exactly like a crime/adventure novel, exploring the dark…

Thugs. Hippies. Crazed drug agents. Random bits of philosophy: “In the end, if the serious man is still bound to illusion, he selects the worthiest illusion and takes a stand.” What more could you ask for?

Why do I love this book and re-read it at least once a year? Because it encapsulates a time when – the mid-70s, when the ideals of the Summer of Love were dead, and Nixon and paranoia reigned – I was trying to find my footing: continue to protest the War or enlist in the Marines?

I try to capture ambivalence and paranoia in…

Dog Soldiers made me want to become a writer. It showed me how to marry plot and character and still write about things that matter. A novel of ideas masquerading as a crime story, it tells of a massive drug deal gone bad, with the Vietnam War and its bitter illusions in the background. If you love complicated characters, this is your kind of book. Stone draws them with good and evil mixed. Your feelings for them shift by the page. The book contains startling images and vivid dialogue, as the characters weigh their decisions against a moral code they…

From Richard's list on set in the 1960s and 70s.

This book is set partly in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and partly in the U.S. and revolves around the Vietnam War and drug smuggling. The book deals with the pervasive sense of individual and institutional corruption which Vietnam seemed to embody. A corrupt society with no avenues of redemption, except in the individual’s code of honor, usually invented after the fact. A code that might perhaps save the individual, but not society. Dog Soldiers won the National Book Award. The first novel on the Vietnam War to be so honored. The story focuses on Ray Hicks, a sailor on…

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