For the Sake of All Living Things

Literature is a valuable supplement to analytical histories and historical documents. It can explore in a speculative and personal manner abstract concepts in such a fashion that the reader “learns” subliminally. Nevertheless, the degree of knowledge obtained from literary endeavors is, to a considerable degree, dependent upon the historical framework available to the reader. What is an author to do when the data base to be accessed is flawed or nonexistent?

With the publication of THE 13TH VALLEY, generally conceded to be one of the best novels yet created about the American involvement in Vietnam, John M. Del Vecchio determined to examine the other side of the coin. He began to prepare a manuscript about a South Vietnamese lieutenant and a soldier from the Khmer Rouge. In the process, Del Vecchio discovered that, like many Americans, he was unaware of the complexities and the horror of the Cambodian experience.

In consequence, he composed FOR THE SAKE OF ALL LIVING THINGS as a docudrama after the model of Truman Capote’s IN COLD BLOOD. At regular intervals throughout this work a historical analysis of the period under review is offered to acquaint readers with the interplay of forces which created the Khmer Rouge hell. These analytical sections are then followed by a fictional account of various individuals whose fates are representative of their nation’s ordeal. Among them are Chhuon, farmer and rice salesman, a man steeped in...

(The entire section is 447 words.)