The best books about Vietnam 📚

Browse the best books on Vietnam as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Cheating Death: Combat Air Rescues in Vietnam and Laos

Cheating Death: Combat Air Rescues in Vietnam and Laos

By George J. Marrett

Why this book?

George Marrett was in my squadron the year prior to me and we tell of some of the same people. Cheating Death is about search and rescue. Same airplane, different mission. A-1s were taildragger airplanes with a 2,700 horsepower engine, could carry 10,000 pounds of external ordinance, and had two 20mm guns in each wing. It was low and slow compared to a jet and could stay over a survivor for a long time until a rescue was made. The author tells of several exciting rescues of pilots who were shot down deep in enemy territory and explains how it…

From the list:

The best books written by pilots who experienced combat during the Vietnam War

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Book cover of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

By Ocean Vuong

Why this book?

This book is dazzling. It is true I have a weakness for epistolary novels, which this is, but as bold and unique as it is, I would recommend this book to everyone. It’s an exquisite love letter from a young man in Connecticut, nicknamed Little Dog by his family, to his Vietnamese mother.

This book takes my breath away, because we feel the raw anguish as the narrator grows up, dealing with his sexuality and longing and all that he and his family have endured.

From the list:

The best first-person novels

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Book cover of Friends, and Country: A Memoir

Friends, and Country: A Memoir

By Nguyen Thi Binh, Mai Elliot

Why this book?

As the representative of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Vietnam at the Paris Peace Conference, Nguyen Thi Binh inspired women’s rights activists around the world. Charged with forwarding efforts toward people-to-people diplomacy, Binh met with antiwar activists from all over the world, including the United States, as she negotiated for peace through official channels. With Binh’s high-level position, the reality of her experiences have often been obscured and misconstrued by people on all sides of the U.S. war in Vietnam. Thus, her memoir provides much-needed insight into her family background, her role in resisting France, her…

From the list:

The best books on women and the US war in Vietnam

Book cover of Democracy

Democracy

By Joan Didion

Why this book?

Some of us marry our childhood sweetheart, while others carry a lifelong torch for a love that seems unattainable. For Inez Victor—married to a U.S. Senator and failed Presidential candidate, a woman who has spent her entire adult life being photographed—the memories of Jack Lovett come in and out of focus like a camera lens. For decades, the two of them nurture a fantasy that finally explodes into the open with the force of the munitions that Lovett sells to governments around the world.

From the list:

The best books about human obsession

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Book cover of Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam

Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam

By William Reeder Jr.

Why this book?

In a rescue-gone-wrong, Reeder’s chopper went down, landing on its side and leaving the pilot frantically attempting to disentangle himself from the safety harness to escape the burning craft. Years later, after relaying this story to a large audience, Reeder was told by a fellow veteran that he had witnessed the incident and had Reeder in his gunsight, intending to save him from burning to death. The would-be shooter had looked away an instant, and when ready to fire, found Reeder gone. Reeder managed to evade the enemy for a time but was eventually captured and subjected to unfathomable cruelty…

From the list:

The best books about Twentieth Century POWs

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