100 books like Vietnam's Prodigal Heroes

By Paul Benedikt Glatz,

Here are 100 books that Vietnam's Prodigal Heroes fans have personally recommended if you like Vietnam's Prodigal Heroes. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From my list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Alexander Sedlmaier Why did Alexander love this book?

What happened when US activists travelled to Asia during the Vietnam War?

This is the question Wu seeks to answer in one of the most important books on internationalism and Vietnam War protest. She looks at how they sympathised and identified with anti-imperialist struggles in Asia, inverting an orientalist dichotomy between imperial America and decolonising Asia “whereby the decolonizing East helped to define the identities and goals of activists in the West.”

This was one of the books that first got me interested in understanding why ethnically diverse protesters responded to the Vietnam War the way they did, and how activists’ travel fostered the imagination of new political possibilities and alternative means of political articulation as they transcended ethnic and racial backgrounds.

By Judy Tzu-Chun Wu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Radicals on the Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Traveling to Hanoi during the U.S. war in Vietnam was a long and dangerous undertaking. Even though a neutral commission operated the flights, the possibility of being shot down by bombers in the air and antiaircraft guns on the ground was very real. American travelers recalled landing in blackout conditions, without lights even for the runway, and upon their arrival seeking refuge immediately in bomb shelters. Despite these dangers, they felt compelled to journey to a land at war with their own country, believing that these efforts could change the political imaginaries of other members of the American citizenry and…


Book cover of People's Diplomacy of Vietnam: Soft Power in the Resistance War, 1965-1972

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From my list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Alexander Sedlmaier Why did Alexander love this book?

Although Robert Brigham’s Guerrilla Diplomacy deserved the attention it got, People’s Diplomacy of Vietnam, in my opinion, does the better job of connecting the dots between the informal or unofficial diplomacy of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and the National Liberation Front (NLF) on the one hand, and the global campaign aimed at garnering sympathy and solidarity with Vietnam, on the other.

Mehta highlights the various connections with and visits to Vietnam by activists from the West and also from the mass organisations of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. These links “enabled the Vietnamese revolutionaries to exercise international influence on a scale disproportionately larger than their meager economic and military capabilities would have otherwise allowed.” 

By Harish C. Mehta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked People's Diplomacy of Vietnam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first full-length book on the concept of "People's Diplomacy," promoted by the president of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, at the peak of the Vietnam War from 1965-1972. It holds great appeal for historians, international relations scholars, diplomats, and the general reader interested in Vietnam. A form of informal diplomacy, people's diplomacy was carried out by ordinary Vietnamese including writers, cartoonists, workers, women, students, filmmakers, medical doctors, academics, and sportspersons. They created an awareness of the American bombardment of innocent Vietnamese civilians, and made profound connections with the anti-war movements abroad. People's diplomacy made it difficult for…


Book cover of Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From my list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Alexander Sedlmaier Why did Alexander love this book?

In January 1966, Ho Chi Minh said in an eye-opening discussion with Polish diplomat Jerzy Michałowski: “We don’t want to become the victors; we just want the Americans to piss off!”

This was in the run-up to the Polish-Italian peace initiative codenamed “Marigold”. Exploring the latter in great detail, James Hershberg in 2012 brought forth the straightforward argument that it could have succeeded in ending the war before 1968. Using new evidence from Polish, Italian, and Vietnamese sources, he penned an enormous (almost 900 pages), yet accessible book exposing how the Johnson administration sabotaged this genuine peace effort with an eye to winning on the battlefield.

The result is Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam, a most impressive addition to the international history of the Vietnam War.

By James Hershberg,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of War Crimes in Vietnam

Alexander Sedlmaier Author Of Protest in the Vietnam War Era

From my list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War.

Who am I?

As a historian and someone who grew up in Cold War Berlin, I am constantly inspired by efforts to curb the devastating effects of industrialised warfare. I love learning about people who had the courage to speak up, and how their historical understanding of the military abuse of power enables us to think differently about present-day warfare. So much of my research has been inspired by social movements and their difficult efforts to improve the world. While I am no expert on Vietnamese history, I have been fortunate to have learned a lot about how ingenious the Vietnamese revolutionaries were in actively pedalling the global emergence of Vietnam War protest. 

Alexander's book list on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War

Alexander Sedlmaier Why did Alexander love this book?

This 1967 collection of essays and speeches by the British philosopher Bertrand Russell fascinates me because it seeks to reveal inconvenient truths while not shying away from a highly partisan intervention.

Russell discusses why he was making a global appeal to protest the US war effort in Vietnam. His book and the subsequent Russell-Sartre War Crimes Tribunal have often been dismissed as biased and uncritical of communist propaganda, but rereading this primary source illuminates an important chapter in the emergence of a global intellectual critique of US imperialism that “millions of Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans” came to share as it was debunking the official position of the Johnson administration and its allies in Vietnam.

By Bertrand Russell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked War Crimes in Vietnam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this harsh and unsparing book, Bertrand Russell presents the
unvarnished truth about the war in Vietnam. He argues that "To
understand the war, we must understand America"-and, in doing so, we
must understand that racism in the United States created a climate in
which it was difficult for Americans to understand what they were doing
in Vietnam. According to Russell, it was this same racism that
provoked "a barbarous, chauvinist outcry when American pilots who have
bombed hospitals, schools, dykes, and civilian centres are accused of
committing war crimes." Even today, more than forty years later, this
chauvinist moral…


Book cover of Her Sister's Tattoo

Lillah Lawson Author Of So Long, Bobby

From my list on what it was like to come of age in the 60s and 90s.

Who am I?

As an author of historical fiction, I have a number of time periods that I go back to again and again. Both the 1960s (specifically, the late 1960s) and the 1990s are two of those eras that I just can’t get enough of. The parallels between these two time periods are very compelling: both were times of political upheaval and amazing music, with young people leading the charge, hoping to create a better world than the one they were disenchanted with. 

Lillah's book list on what it was like to come of age in the 60s and 90s

Lillah Lawson Why did Lillah love this book?

A tale of close sisters who find themselves at odds as their belief systems are challenged during the height of the Vietnam War; their lives deviating from one another as their priorities change.

A poignant novel about how even the strongest of familial relationships can be torn asunder in times of turmoil and upheaval, but how the purest love can bring them back together again.

By Ellen Meeropol,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Her Sister's Tattoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rosa and Esther march through downtown Detroit in August 1968 to protest the war in Vietnam. When a bloodied teenager reports that mounted police are beating protestors a few blocks away, the young women hurry to offer assistance. They try to stop the violence, but an officer is injured and the sisters are arrested. Rosa sees an opportunity to protest the war in court. Esther has an infant daughter and wants to avoid prison, which means accepting a plea bargain and testifying against her sister. Told from multiple points of view and through the sisters' never-mailed letters, Her Sister's Tattoo…


Book cover of Conscience

Fran Hawthorne Author Of I Meant to Tell You

From my list on ordinary people drawn into social activism.

Who am I?

Was it the environmental movement, which burgeoned as I was growing up? Or remnants of Sunday School teachings? For whatever reason, I deeply believe that I have a responsibility to give back to the world more than I take. There are many ways to give back, as my characters Miranda and Russ explore in my novel I Meant to Tell You. In my nonfiction, I’ve investigated the healthcare and financial industries, and also suggested steps we can take in our everyday lives as consumers, parents, and investors. When I’m not writing, I’m organizing environmental clean-ups, collecting supplies for refugees, and phoning public officials.

Fran's book list on ordinary people drawn into social activism

Fran Hawthorne Why did Fran love this book?

Alice Mattison, the author, must have been reading my mind! This piercing novel echoes some of my conflicted feelings about the Sixties and social activism in general, even as it also probes the strains of long-term marriage and friendship. As college students, Olive, Helen, and Val took different routes during the Sixties antiwar protests. Now, when a magazine commissions Olive to write an essay about Val’s long-ago novel, she must confront the repercussions of those friendships and the decisions the three women made. Helen chose violent protest; Olive chose a PhD; Val chose to appropriate Helen’s life in her fiction. Olive’s rethinking raises a question that’s important for us today: How far should an ethical person go for a just cause?  

By Alice Mattison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Decades ago in Brooklyn, three girls demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and each followed a distinct path into adulthood. Helen became a violent revolutionary. Val wrote a controversial book, essentially a novelization of Helen’s all-too-short but vibrant life. And Olive became an editor and writer, now comfortably settled with her husband, Griff, in New Haven. When Olive is asked to write an essay about Val’s book, doing so brings back to the forefront Olive and Griff’s tangled histories and their complicated reflections on that tumultuous time in their young lives.Conscience, the dazzling new novel from award-winning author Alice Mattison, paints…


Book cover of Hanoi Journal, 1967

Jessica Frazier Author Of Women's Antiwar Diplomacy During the Vietnam War Era

From my list on women and the US war in Vietnam.

Who am I?

I fell into researching women’s antiwar activism during the U.S. war in Vietnam by chance when I came across evidence of middle-aged American women traveling to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1965 to meet with women from North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front—the enemies of the United States at the time. Discovering that some of these same U.S. women (and many others), would later travel to Hanoi despite the United States conducting extensive bombing raids over North Vietnam, despite travel to North Vietnam being prohibited, and despite some of the women having young children at home, simply astounded me, and I had to find out more.

Jessica's book list on women and the US war in Vietnam

Jessica Frazier Why did Jessica love this book?

Carol McEldowney, a community organizer in 1967, cut her activist teeth in the student protest movement in the early 1960s as a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society. In 1967, she accepted the opportunity to attend an antiwar conference with Vietnamese diplomats, including Nguyen Thi Binh, in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. Following that meeting, McEldowney and six other Americans traveled on to Hanoi to find out what was happening on the ground. Her transcribed journal tells of this experience, including McEldowney’s anxieties, hopes, and doubts, and presents readers with a glimpse of life for North Vietnamese as well as a window into the questions, concerns, and perceptions of an antiwar activist.

By Carol Cohen McEldowney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hanoi Journal, 1967 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the fall of 1967, Carol McEldowney, a twenty-four-year-old community organizer living in Cleveland, embarked on a remarkable journey. In a climate of growing domestic unrest and international turmoil, she traveled illegally to North Vietnam with fellow members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to meet the enemy face-to-face. She was determined to understand the foe that had troubled America's leaders in Washington since the end of World War II. With an eye toward history and a recognition of the significance of her journey, McEldowney documented her experiences in the journal reproduced in this book. Through her words we…


Book cover of A Vital Frontier: Water Insurgencies in Europe

Andreas Bieler Author Of Fighting for Water: Resisting Privatization in Europe

From my list on struggles against water grabbing.

Who am I?

Andreas Bieler’s main research focus has been on the possibilities of labour movements, broadly defined, to represent the interests of their members and wider societies in struggles against capitalist exploitation in times of neo-liberal globalisation. His research on water struggles in Europe was motivated by the fact that this has been one of the few areas, in which resistance has actually been successful. Understanding the reasons behind this success may help us understand what is necessary for success in other areas of resistance. 

Andreas' book list on struggles against water grabbing

Andreas Bieler Why did Andreas love this book?

Coming from an anthropological, ethnographic approach, Andrea Muehlebach provides an illuminating account of the motives, hopes, and disappointments driving activists in their struggle against the financialization of water.

Through a close engagement with water struggles on the ground Muehlebach paints a rich picture of the large variety of forms of resistance in the very struggle over life itself. 

By Andrea Muehlebach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Vital Frontier as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In A Vital Frontier Andrea Muehlebach examines the work of activists across Europe as they organize to preserve water as a commons and public good in the face of privatization. Traversing social, political, legal, and hydrological terrains, Muehlebach situates water as a political fault line at the frontiers of financialization, showing how the seemingly relentless expansion of capital into public utilities is being challenged by an equally relentless and often successful insurgence of political organizing. Drawing on ethnographic research, Muehlebach presents water protests as a vital politics that comprises popular referenda, barricades in the streets, huge demonstrations, the burning of…


Book cover of Winter Soldiers: An Oral History of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Amanda Cockrell Author Of Coyote Weather

From my list on the Sixties and the Vietnam War era.

Who am I?

Almost all of my books have been historical novels, but this one is the one most dear to me, an attempt to understand the fault line that the Vietnam War laid across American society, leaving almost every man of my generation with scars physical or psychic. My picks are all books that illuminate the multiple upheavals of that time.

Amanda's book list on the Sixties and the Vietnam War era

Amanda Cockrell Why did Amanda love this book?

Winter Soldiers offers firsthand accounts of more than thirty of members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, some of whom first joined the military with a deep belief in the rightness of America’s role in that conflict.

Eventually they made common cause with the protesters against the war and their voices had a role in its ending. Winter Soldiers follows them from their lives before the war, through their service, and into its aftermath.

By Richard Stacewicz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1971, Vietnam veterans testified in public hearings about atrocities they had participated in or witnessed during the war. Here, Stacewicz seeks to tell their story by interviewing more than 30 members of Vietnam Veterans Against War and draws on their archives for supporting evidence.


Book cover of Crash Course: From the Good War to the Forever War

Paul Lauter Author Of Our Sixties: An Activist's History

From my list on how we made change in the 1960's.

Who am I?

Over the past 50 years, I've been one of those “tenured radicals” the right-wing loved to bash. But before that, during the 1960s, I worked, often full-time, in the social movements that did change America: civil rights, anti-war, feminism. I was older, so I became a “professor-activist.” As a teacher, I applied what I had learned in the movements to reconstruct ideas about which writers mattered—women as well as men, minorities as well as whites: Zora Neale Hurston, Frederick Douglass, Adrienne Rich as well as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway. Using that principle, I led a team that created a very successful collection, The Heath Anthology of American Literature.     

Paul's book list on how we made change in the 1960's

Paul Lauter Why did Paul love this book?

Want to understand today’s America? Noam Chomsky, Dan Ellsberg, Jane Anne Phillips, Kim Stanley Robinson, John Dower all recommend Crash Course, Bruce Franklin’s 20th book. Bruce went from working on tugboats during the bloody war for control of New York Harbor to flying as Air Force intelligence officer and Arctic navigator. Then he became a major figure in "revolutionary" movements of the sixties and seventies, getting fired from his tenured job. FBI documents reveal efforts “neutralize” him, including framing him for various crimes. This book discloses some of his actual underground activities, including helping to set up a Vietnam deserter network in France. As exciting as a thriller novel, Crash Course rewards readers with its deep analysis of modern American history. 

By Howard Bruce Franklin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Growing up during the Second World War, H. Bruce Franklin believed what he was told: that America’s victory would lead to a new era of world peace. Like most Americans, he was soon led to believe in a world-wide Communist conspiracy that menaced the United States, forcing the nation into a disastrous war in Korea. But once he joined the U.S. Air Force and began flying top-secret missions as a navigator and intelligence officer, what he learned was eye-opening. He saw that even as the U.S. preached about peace and freedom, it was engaging in an endless cycle of warfare,…


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