100 books like The Sorrow of War

By Bảo Ninh,

Here are 100 books that The Sorrow of War fans have personally recommended if you like The Sorrow of War. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Death of a Hero

Andrew Scott Author Of Fake History: Ten Great Lies and How They Shaped the World

From my list on to fight fake history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not a historian but a journalist, and in writing the book I wanted to do what I have done in my political writing. Namely to cut through the lies, to bring accuracy to the distortions, and to point a finger at the politicians and pundits who would prefer that we wallowed in the phony nostalgia of our imagined past. Tackling fake history is like tackling fake news. You need not only to seek out the truth that lies underneath but also discover in whose interests myth-making works in the first place. That's why fighting fake history matters and that is why I wrote the book.

Andrew's book list on to fight fake history

Andrew Scott Why did Andrew love this book?

Perhaps the finest and least well-known novel to come out of the First World War. Imagist poet Richard Aldington takes his own experiences of the home and Western Fronts and turns both barrels on the sanctimony of Edwardian society and its parade of sycophants, socialites, and fools. Unusually, it is a book by a poet that resists turning war into poetry. Unafraid to use realistically coarse military language, it divided the critics at the time and has divided readers ever since. It is a howl of rage that speaks across the century, a timeless reminder that there is no romance in the needless carnage of war.

By Richard Aldington,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Death of a Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great World War I antiwar novels - honest, chilling, and brilliantly satirical

Based on the author's experiences on the Western Front, Richard Aldington's first novel, Death of a Hero, finally joins the ranks of Penguin Classics. Our hero is George Winterbourne, who enlists in the British Expeditionary Army during the Great War and gets sent to France. After a rash of casualties leads to his promotion through the ranks, he grows increasingly cynical about the war and disillusioned by the hypocrisies of British society. Aldington's writing about Britain's ignorance of the tribulations of its soldiers is among…


Book cover of Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege

Cathal J. Nolan Author Of Mercy: Humanity in War

From my list on how wars are won and lost.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an award-winning teacher and writer who introduces students and readers to war in a profession that today is at best indifferent to military history, and more often hostile. That gives me a wry sense of irony, as colleagues would rather teach about fashion than fascism and truffles over tragedy. Having written a multiple award-winning book that covered 2,000 years of war, frankly I was sickened by how the same mistakes were made over and again. It has made me devoted to exploring possibilities for humane behavior within the most inhumane and degraded moral environment humanity creates; where individuality is subsumed in collective violence and humanity is obscured as a faceless, merciless enemy.

Cathal's book list on how wars are won and lost

Cathal J. Nolan Why did Cathal love this book?

Beevor has a rare gift of presenting war at the level of both the ordinary soldier and the generals and distant leadership making decisions both good and bad. His sources range from letters home, to diaries, to dispatches on both the Soviet and German side. He writes without flinching about the horrors of war, or too overtly playing the cheerleader as so many military histories do, to their detriment. 

By Antony Beevor,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Stalingrad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This authoritative and well written book recreates the battle for Stalingrad that became the focus of Hitler and Stalin's determination to win the gruesome and vicious war for the Eastern front. A detailed examination of the most pitiless, and perhaps the most important battle in WW2 history. Focusing on the experiences of soldiers on both sides, driven beyond the limits of physical and mental endurance this work stands as a testament to human endeavour and to the vital role of the Soviet wareffort. This will be the classic book on the subject,


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 Dog Soldiers

Max Ludington Author Of Thorn Tree

From my list on 1960s counterculture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with the sixties and its counterculture ever since I was about eleven or twelve, and I found out that the summer I was born, 1967, was called the Summer of Love. Because of this fascination, I started reading writers like Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson at an early age. Then, I became a lover of the Grateful Dead and went on tour with them as a fan for a couple of years in my late teens. It was the best way remaining in this country, in the 1980s, to be a hippie in some real way. I still love the music and literature of that time.

Max's book list on 1960s counterculture

Max Ludington Why did Max love this book?

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.

By Robert Stone,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Dog Soldiers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 corrupt Fed wants Converse to find him the drugs, or else.

Dog Soldiers is a frightening, powerful, intense novel that perfectly captures the underground mood of the United States in the 1970s, when amateur drug dealers and hippies encountered the violent world of cops on the make and professional killers.…


Book cover of The Things They Carried

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?

O’Brien’s depiction of American soldiers in Vietnam was vivid and moving. It gave me a deeper understanding of the soldier’s experience. His artful use of the metaphor of what they carried revealed not only the items on hand but also the psychological baggage each soldier dealt with.

The stories were haunting and made me a full witness to the complexity of war and the many ways it is experienced. It is artfully written, moving, complex, touching and unforgettable.

By Tim O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

20 authors picked The Things They Carried as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The million-copy bestseller, which is a ground-breaking meditation on war, memory, imagination, and the redemptive power of storytelling.

'The Things They Carried' is, on its surface, a sequence of award-winning stories about the madness of the Vietnam War; at the same time it has the cumulative power and unity of a novel, with recurring characters and interwoven strands of plot and theme.

But while Vietnam is central to 'The Things They Carried', it is not simply a book about war. It is also a book about the human heart - about the terrible weight of those things we carry through…


Book cover of Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History

Andrew Wiest Author Of The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam

From my list on the Vietnam War from different POVs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was always fascinated by the Vietnam War since my older sister’s friends went off to fight in it. After getting my PhD and writing about World War I and World War II, I returned to Vietnam by getting involved with veterans groups and taking veterans and students to Vietnam. Since then I have written widely on the topic, teach about the Vietnam War, and have been involved in several major Vietnam War documentaries for outlets including the History Channel and National Geographic Channel. From those early days I have read everything I can get my hands on about the war, about my generation’s war.

Andrew's book list on the Vietnam War from different POVs

Andrew Wiest Why did Andrew love this book?

This was the first collection of oral histories that I ever read from the Vietnam War. Reading history done this way, with the men speaking for themselves, opened a new world for me. It allowed me to understand that it is only by talking to and with our veterans that the true depth of the combat experience can be delved. Terror, camaraderie, death, honor, humor, compassion, and boredom – the full human story of Vietnam and war is on display in Bloods. And it was this book that taught me to be an oral historian. 

On top of that, Bloods also, of course, makes clear the uniqueness of the Black experience in Vietnam – fighting a war for America while the country wrestled with its eternal question of race. This book is good and important for so many reasons. 

By Wallace Terry,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bloods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • The national bestseller that tells the truth about the Vietnam War from the black soldiers’ perspective.

An oral history unlike any other, Bloods features twenty black men who tell the story of how members of their race were sent off to Vietnam in disproportionate numbers, and of the special test of patriotism they faced. Told in voices no reader will soon forget, Bloods is a must-read for anyone who wants to put the Vietnam experience in historical, cultural, and political perspective.

Praise for Bloods

“Superb . . . a portrait not just of…


Book cover of The Sympathizer

Devin Murphy Author Of The Boat Runner

From my list on books with super shady characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a total sucker for people who are so complicated I can’t get a read on them. This love comes from growing up without any extended family. When I heard little bits of my parents’ pasts, it felt like the world got more interesting, and I wanted to dig in to know everything there was to know about what shaped them and, by proxy, what shaped me. I’m drawn to shady characters who don’t want to give up the goods, as they present a joyful challenge by withholding mystery, and those types of characters are the ones I love to read and write about.

Devin's book list on books with super shady characters

Devin Murphy Why did Devin love this book?

I’ve never encountered such a duplicitous and complicated character as the Captain. Having to survive life in Vietnam before and during America’s entry into the war, and after as an immigrant in America, I kept thinking I understood why the character behaved the way he did. His actions made sense. Then I’d get what I thought was a glimpse at his heart and intentions and know I had him all wrong, only to turn the page and see a completely different facet of him again.

Over and over his past and present and desires for the future kept morphing him. The stunning thing about this story is I totally understood why he would be this complex as each section doled out enough clues how someone like him could be so strange and malleable and twisted up in the most odd and fascinating ways. 

By Viet Thanh Nguyen,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Sympathizer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016

It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain:…


Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Betty Bolte Author Of Becoming Lady Washington

From my list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I “discovered” historical fiction when a teen and have devoured it ever since. When my parents took me to the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina in 9th grade, I realized just how much I enjoyed learning about history in real life. I found that reading historical fiction breathed life into what can be a very dull read, so I wanted to bring history to life with my own words. Visiting historical properties has become a big passion of mine! Every trip I take includes a visit to some historical site or another. I’ve been writing historical fiction/romance/fantasy since the late 1990s.

Betty's book list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women

Betty Bolte Why did Betty love this book?

This story is set in Việt Nam and paints a clear picture of the people who lived there in the 1930-1980 timeframe of the story. The family faced hardships and tragedies, including being separated for several months when they were forced to flee for their lives. One thing I really appreciated was seeing the impact and impressions of the Việt Nam war on the people of that country. My brother fought over there—he was a Ranger in the Army—during that conflict and came home very different. In fact, he’s estranged himself from the family for the past 30+ years. Reading about the conflict from the other side gives me a clearer idea of what he might have seen or done that he never would tell me about.

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Mountains Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Viet Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai's first novel in English.


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 The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

Zachary Shore Author Of A Sense of the Enemy: The High Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind

From my list on knowing your enemy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of international conflict who focuses on understanding the enemy. For most of my career, I have studied why we so often misread others, and how those misperceptions lead to war. The current crisis in Ukraine is just one more example of how the parties involved misunderstood each other. I believe that if we could improve this one ability, we would substantially lessen the likelihood, frequency, and severity of war.

Zachary's book list on knowing your enemy

Zachary Shore Why did Zachary love this book?

Myers, a professor and North Korea watcher, draws on a careful reading of the “Hermit Kingdom’s” cultural products (its political speeches, novels, pamphlets, and more) to tease out a worldview that is too often opaque to outsiders. While escapee literature focuses on how average Koreans suffer under that brutal regime, this book affords us insight into how the regime sees itself – in ways that will surprise you.

By B.R. Myers,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Cleanest Race as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Understanding North Korea through its propagandaA newly revised and updated edition that includes a consideration of Kim Jung Il's successor, Kim Jong-On What do the North Koreans really believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them? Here B.R. Myers, a North Korea analyst and a contributing editor of The Atlantic, presents the first full-length study of the North Korean worldview. Drawing on extensive research into the regime’s domestic propaganda, including films, romance novels and other artifacts of the personality cult, Myers analyzes each of the country’s official myths in turn€”from the notion of Koreans’ unique moral purity,…


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