100 books like Street Without Joy

By Bernard B. Fall,

Here are 100 books that Street Without Joy fans have personally recommended if you like Street Without Joy. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of We Were Soldiers Once... and Young

Ellen Birkett Morris Author Of Beware the Tall Grass

From my list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am passionate about the Vietnam War because my male relatives served and came back changed by the experience. I spent ten years as the editor of The Patton Saber, writing articles about the experience of World War II soldiers, but when I came across an idea for a novel about past life memories, I decided to focus on memories of the Vietnam War. What I love about this list is that it reflects many facets of the war, including soldiers, nurses, veterans, and the family members touched by those affected by war.

Ellen's book list on a well-rounded look at Americans touched by the Vietnam War

Ellen Birkett Morris Why did Ellen love this book?

This book offers an unflinching and harrowing portrait of the experiences of 450 men of the First Battalion, Seventh Cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore. The honest portrayal of the soldiers who were ambushed is at once vivid, horrific, and inspiring.

The authors interviewed hundreds of men who fought there, including the North Vietnamese commanders, and the book offers an authentic, personal account of the horrors of war.  

By General Harold Moore, Joseph Galloway,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked We Were Soldiers Once... and Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'If you want to know what is was like to go to Vietnam as a young American... and find yourself caught in ferocious, remorseless combat with an enemy as courageous and idealistic as you were, then you must read this book. Moore and Galloway have captured the terror and exhilaration, the comradeship and self-sacrifice, the brutality and compassion that are the dark heart of war' THE TIMES

THE MUST READ CLASSIC OF THE VIETNAM WAR

In November 1965, 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, under the command of Lt.Col. Hal Moore, were dropped by helicopter into a small…


Book cover of The Best and the Brightest

James Bradley Author Of Flags of Our Fathers

From my list on war and what it all means.

Why am I passionate about this?

My father, John Bradley, was a veteran and fought on Iwo Jima in World War 2 in 1945. Later I walked in the sands of Iwo Jima and eventually wrote four books about war. I am a New York Times best-selling author and Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood made my first book into a movie, Flags of Our Fathers. I've been traveling in and learning about Asia since 1974, when I attended Sophia University in Tokyo. I am also the host of a podcast called Untold Pacific that mines 40 years of my life to create historical travelogues about the American experience on the other side of the Pacific. 

John and I did a podcast about these book recommendations and if you want to listen to the full episode go here.

James' book list on war and what it all means

James Bradley Why did James love this book?

David Halberstam documents how fools go to war. This book is about the whiz kids that got us into the Vietnam war and ran it under the JFK and the Johnson administrations. The same ones who got us into the Iraq War, the Spanish American War, and so on. There is a quote that I love from this book that effectively says, "they used brilliant policies that defied common sense." And, that sums this all up. These whiz kids ran a war as if it was part of American politics and from thousands of miles away with memos and meetings in DC. They completely screwed it up.

David Halberstam was a correspondent in Saigon and knew these insiders. He wrote about the decision-making that was happening behind closed doors that led to one of our greatest follies. He is a master storyteller and I strongly recommend this book. 

By David Halberstam,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Best and the Brightest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

David Halberstam’s masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy, with a new Foreword by Senator John McCain.

"A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience.”—The New York Times

Using portraits of America’s flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country’s recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam, and why did we lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It is an American classic.

Praise for The Best…


Book cover of P.O.W.: A Definitive History of the American Prisoner-Of-War Experience in Vietnam, 1964-1973

Thomas R. Yarborough Author Of A Shau Valor: American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963-1971

From my list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot).

Why am I passionate about this?

A decorated Air Force combat pilot, Tom Yarborough served two tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. After leaving the Air Force he was a professor and department chair at Indiana University and history professor at Northern Virginia Community College. His writing background includes the books Da Nang Diary, winner of the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for the best memoir of 2014, and A Shau Valor, a finalist for the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.

Thomas' book list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot)

Thomas R. Yarborough Why did Thomas love this book?

No person who had any feelings about the Vietnam War, pro or con, can in good conscience not read John Hubbell’s P.O.W., a powerful and intense account of American prisoners of war in Vietnam. Hubbell does a masterful job of detailing the incredible courage, heroism, and sacrifice in the face of terrifying torture, starvation, and incredible loneliness. For the POWs, mental and physical pain existed not for hours or days but for months and years; the pain was induced by inept and ignorant captors whose brutality was their government's policy. Above all, P.O.W. is a testament to these American heroes’ bedrock belief in God, self, comrade, and country.

By Kenneth Y Tomlinson, Andrew Jones, John G Hubbell

Why should I read it?

1 author picked P.O.W. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"With the first page the book explodes ... a story of fortitude and patriotism to inspire generations of Americans to come." Philadelphia Evening Bulletin "It's to our experience as Blackstone is to the law." Col. George E. "Bud" Day, USAF (Ret.), attorney, former POW and Medal of Honor winner


Book cover of The Ravens: The True Story Of A Secret War In Laos, Vietnam

Thomas R. Yarborough Author Of A Shau Valor: American Combat Operations in the Valley of Death, 1963-1971

From my list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot).

Why am I passionate about this?

A decorated Air Force combat pilot, Tom Yarborough served two tours in Vietnam as a forward air controller. After leaving the Air Force he was a professor and department chair at Indiana University and history professor at Northern Virginia Community College. His writing background includes the books Da Nang Diary, winner of the Military Writers Society of America Gold Medal for the best memoir of 2014, and A Shau Valor, a finalist for the 2016 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award.

Thomas' book list on the Vietnam War (from an Air Force combat pilot)

Thomas R. Yarborough Why did Thomas love this book?

The Ravens were young Air Force pilots, all volunteers, who flew tiny Cessna O-1 Bird Dog spotter planes through heavy groundfire to identify targets and call in air-strikes during the top-secret war in northern Laos. Their mission was so secret that they wore no uniforms and carried no identification. Fed up with the bureaucracy of the war in Vietnam, these young FACs accepted the 50% casualty rates of what was known as the Steve Canyon Program in return for a life of unrestricted flying and fighting. Devoted to the CIA-sponsored hill tribesmen they supported, the Ravens did their job with extraordinary skill and raw courage. This is their story, brilliantly told in Christopher Robbins. Based on extensive interviews with the survivors, it is a tale of undeniable heroism, blending real-life romance, adventure, and tragedy.

By Christopher Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ravens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on materials that were, until recently, classified, this account depicts the intense air war fought over Laos and profiles the "Ravens," the pilots who risked their lives in this little-known field of war.


Book cover of You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War

Janet Somerville Author Of Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn's Letters of Love and War 1930-1949

From my list on women war correspondents.

Why am I passionate about this?

Janet Somerville taught literature for 25 years in Toronto. She served on the PEN Canada Board and chaired many benefits that featured writers including Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Stephen King, Alice Munro, Azar Nafisi, and Ian Rankin. She contributes frequently to the Toronto Star Book Pages, and has been handwriting a #LetterADay for 8 years. Since 2015 she has been immersed in Martha Gellhorn’s life and words, with ongoing access to Gellhorn’s restricted papers in Boston. Yours, for Probably Always: Martha Gellhorn’s Letters of Love & War 1930-1949 is her first book, now also available from Penguin Random House Audio, read by the Tony Award-winning Ellen Barkin. 

Janet's book list on women war correspondents

Janet Somerville Why did Janet love this book?

Becker writes vibrantly about three intrepid journalists who covered the Vietnam War and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia: Pulitzer Prize-winning magazine writer Frances Fitzgerald, photojournalist Catherine Leroy, and combat reporter Kate Webb, whose insistence on getting close to the action led to her capture. Their individual stories, including traumas and injuries are set in relief against wider history.

By Elizabeth Becker,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked You Don't Belong Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The long buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the official and cultural barriers to women covering war.

Kate Webb, an Australian iconoclast, Catherine Leroy, a French dare devil photographer, and Frances FitzGerald, a blue-blood American intellectual, arrived in Vietnam with starkly different life experiences but one shared purpose: to report on the most consequential story of the decade.

At a time when women were considered unfit to be foreign reporters, Frankie, Catherine and Kate paid their own way to war, arrived without jobs, challenged the rules imposed on them by the military, ignored the belittlement and…


Book cover of On the Ho Chi Minh Trail: The Blood Road, the Women Who Defended It, the Legacy

Myra MacPherson Author Of Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation

From my list on Vietnam from a multitude of sources.

Why am I passionate about this?

Myra MacPherson is an acclaimed author of five books and a journalist. She was hired by Ben Bradlee for the Washington Post where she spent twenty years and specialized in politics, in-depth human interest stories, profiles, and covered five presidential campaigns. During four decades of reporting she interviewed famous figures such as Fidel Castro, Helen Keller, and the mother of serial killer, Ted Bundy, as well as several Presidents.  Of all the milestone political moments MacPherson covered nothing impressed friends and family more than the 1964 landmark and legendary first American live concert of the Beatles (in the Nation’s Capital), which propelled them into international fame. MacPherson has continued her long career as a journalist, with articles in national magazines on the internet. Her most current -- Forgotten Father of the Abortion Movement, in The New Republic -- tackles abortion rights, which remains a highly controversial politicized battle nearly a half-century since abortion was declared legal in 1973.

Myra's book list on Vietnam from a multitude of sources

Myra MacPherson Why did Myra love this book?

Sherry Buchanan takes us on the Ho Chi Minh trail in a riveting and as relevant a journey to study today as it was 50 years ago. She charts new territory - especially in the vivid, often heartbreaking stories of women who fought in the war as teenagers and the forced roles of housewives who stood on rooftops facing death to shoot down US planes that bombed their homes. Buchanan details the countless centuries of Vietnam's perilous path to freedom. But her vivid writing and crystal clear interviews with women--their youthful dreams and present-day realities--shine a powerful light on a war and a previously unexplored dimension that should never be forgotten.

By Sherry Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Ho Chi Minh Trail as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Part travelogue, part history, and part reflective meditation on conflict and reconciliation, Sherry Buchanan's new book offers both a personal and historical exploration of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, highlighting the critical role women militia and soldiers played in defending the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War. Accompanied by two travelling companions, Buchanan winds her way from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, in the south. Driving through the spectacular scenery of Vietnam and Laos, she encounters locations from the Truong Son mountains, the Phong Nha Caves, ancient citadels and Confucian temples to…


Book cover of The Quiet American

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

David Hagerty Why did David love this book?

Before the U.S. entered the war in Vietnam, Graham Greene forecast its disastrous consequences. His love triangle, set amid the escalating conflict, perfectly captures the naiveté of American interventionism overseas. I love the subtext of the tale, which is narrated by an embittered British journalist. Although it’s never spoken, we intuit that he is addicted to opium and living the life of a dissolute expatriate. Fowler watches in horror as a U.S. diplomat tries to steal both the woman and the country he has adopted. He claims impartiality and indifference until he cannot any longer.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Quiet American as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Graham Greene's classic exploration of love, innocence, and morality in Vietnam

"I never knew a man who had better motives for all the trouble he caused," Graham Greene's narrator Fowler remarks of Alden Pyle, the eponymous "Quiet American" of what is perhaps the most controversial novel of his career. Pyle is the brash young idealist sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission to Saigon, where the French Army struggles against the Vietminh guerrillas.

As young Pyle's well-intentioned policies blunder into bloodshed, Fowler, a seasoned and cynical British reporter, finds it impossible to stand safely aside as an observer. But…


Book cover of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Miles Borrero Author Of Beautiful Monster: A Becoming

From my list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a trans, Latinx yoga teacher, writer, and musician who transitioned at the age of 40. Before that, I’d spent most of my life trying to live by someone else’s rules…only to realize, when my dad was dying, that I was not truly living. The funny thing is, as an artist and teacher, I’d dedicated myself to helping others live their lives to the fullest but had not granted myself the same courtesy. Sometimes, our lessons are hard-won. The books on this list have been beacons of hope and treasure trove chests of inspiration for me, as I hope they will be for you, too. 

Miles' book list on living this wild and precious life to its fullest

Miles Borrero Why did Miles love this book?

Ocean’s book is vulnerable, intimate, and heartbreaking in the most life-affirming way.

The way he writes about love between a mother and son, and a son and another boy, feels so universal and delicate, like the scent of a rose that is here one moment but just as suddenly drifts away. As an immigrant myself, I felt the starkness in the way Ocean describes the hardship of living in a land not one’s own.

I finished the book feeling like I needed to go hug my mom and tell her I love her. Those bonds of family are so shattering yet important. Ocean’s book reminds me to allow myself all the depth of feeling because life is hard, but whoa, it is also gorgeous. 

By Ocean Vuong,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times Bestseller!

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal in Fiction, the 2019 Aspen Words Literacy Prize, and the PEN/Hemingway Debut Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

Winner of the 2019 New England Book Award for Fiction!

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, Nylon, The Week, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.

"A lyrical work of self-discovery that's shockingly intimate and insistently…


Book cover of Little China: The Annamese lands

Mandaley Perkins Author Of Hanoi, Adieu - A Bitterweet Memoir Of French Indochina

From my list on the French in Vietnam.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the crucial period after the end of WW2 the stage became set for thirty years of war in Vietnam, yet there’s very little written of it. My stepfather was there, and Hanoi, Adieu is a memoir of his experiences and his sentiments about what happened in the country he’d grown to love. I have a fascination for Southeast Asian history and he was keen for me to tell his story such that readers could absorb the history through his book. I have recommended here those I enjoyed and found useful from a historical or atmospheric perspective in the larger context of French Indochina. I hope you will too.

Mandaley's book list on the French in Vietnam

Mandaley Perkins Why did Mandaley love this book?

If you want to immerse yourself in the old French Indochina then this could be the book for you. Published in 1942 it is written by a Brit who describes it as a travel book, but it is a travel book that is replete with history. That the author travelled the Annamese (Vietnamese) lands during a time of peace made it of particular interest to me when working with Michel on his early years from 1936 in Vietnam for my book. In Little China one can immerse oneself in the life of the Annamese people through Brodrick’s descriptive prose of everyday scenes. The book has not only a historical Chronological Table, but an Appendix, a short Bibliography, a map, and a comprehensive Index in case you happen to be looking for something specific. It was published by Oxford University Press.

By Alan Houghton Brodrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Little China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of River of Time: A Memoir of Vietnam and Cambodia

Mandaley Perkins Author Of Hanoi, Adieu - A Bitterweet Memoir Of French Indochina

From my list on the French in Vietnam.

Why am I passionate about this?

In the crucial period after the end of WW2 the stage became set for thirty years of war in Vietnam, yet there’s very little written of it. My stepfather was there, and Hanoi, Adieu is a memoir of his experiences and his sentiments about what happened in the country he’d grown to love. I have a fascination for Southeast Asian history and he was keen for me to tell his story such that readers could absorb the history through his book. I have recommended here those I enjoyed and found useful from a historical or atmospheric perspective in the larger context of French Indochina. I hope you will too.

Mandaley's book list on the French in Vietnam

Mandaley Perkins Why did Mandaley love this book?

Personally, I love historical memoirs, real stories from people who were there. Fast forward 14 years of war from the time Michel left Hanoi to dive into the memoir of another who fell for the allure of Vietnam and Cambodia. British journalist Jon Swain was in the region from 1970 to 1975 and saw the horrors committed by the Khmer Rouge when it finally took Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Having been captured by the Khmer Rouge he was saved from execution only by the actions of The New York Times interpreter, Dith Pran. It was this story and experience that inspired the Oscar-winning movie The Killing FieldsThe author’s love for Indochina shines through the pages despite the fact that he is often sickened by the brutality and atrocities he witnessed. He also successfully captures the doomed atmosphere in Saigon as the Americans and the South Vietnamese realise they…

By Jon Swain,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked River of Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A splendid memoir...a tale, at once tragic and beautiful, of love and loss, of coming of age and of witnessing the end of Indochina as the West had known it for more than a century."—Los Angleles Times Book Review. From the writer immortalized in the Academy Award-winning film The Killing Fields.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Vietnam War, Vietnam, and presidential biography.

The Vietnam War Explore 230 books about the Vietnam War
Vietnam Explore 153 books about Vietnam
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography