What Do I Read Next?
The Sorrow of War (1995), by Bao Ninh, a former North Vietnamese soldier, offers a look at the Vietnam War from the North Vietnamese perspective. This novel uses many of the same literary techniques found in The Things They Carried.
In the Lake of the Woods (1994), by Tim O’Brien, is a deeply troubling novel about the return to the United States of one Vietnam veteran and his inability to adjust to civilian life. The story is told with many metafictional devices. Although challenging to read, it is an important book for students of the Vietnam War.
Song of Napalm (1988), by Bruce Weigl, is a collection of Vietnam War poetry. Weigl, along with Yusef Komunyakaa, John Balaban, and W. D. Earhart, is one of the most studied Vietnam War poets.
Poems from Captured Documents (1994), selected and translated by Thanh T. Nguyen and Bruce Weigl, offers a collection of poems taken from the notebooks, journals, and diaries of soldiers who fought against the U.S. forces in Vietnam. The book offers facing-page originals and translations, making it possible for both Vietnamese and American students to read.
Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (1955) remains one of the classic novels of the Vietnam War. Set in Vietnam immediately before the battle of Dien Bien Phu, when the French lost their colonial hold on Vietnam, the novel offers a look at the early days that led inevitably to the conflict involving the United States.
Tim O’Brien’s memoir If I Die in A Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973) provides insight into the events that inspired the stories of The Things They Carried.
Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans (1984), by Wallace Terry, is a collection of memoirs from Vietnam veterans. It is especially noteworthy as it presents the memories of minority soldiers caught in the conflict.