Vietnam: A History (1983) by Stanley Karnow. This lengthy and exhaustive account is still the benchmark and is a surprisingly readable piece of scholarship.
Dispatches (1977) by Michael Herr is one of the centerpieces in the journalist and personal narrative genre of Vietnam writing. Unflinching and realistic, it was one of the first books of its kind.
A Rumor of War (1977) by Philip Caputo is often mentioned in the same breath with Herr's Dispatches. This dark narrative pays particular attention to the way individual soldiers functioned as groups in the war.
In Country (1985) by Bobbie Ann Mason is a novel about the effects of the Vietnam War on those who remain at home.
Shallow Graves: Two Women and Vietnam (1986) by Wendy Larsen Wilder and Tran Thi Nga is a collection or sequence of poems written by the wife of an American journalist and a former employee in the magazine's Saigon office. Using alternating sections the book offers a startling and moving picture of the war.
Robert Olen Butler's Pulitzer Prize-winning collection: A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992) addresses the Vietnam War and its aftermath from a variety of narrative perspectives.
Going After Cacciato (1978) is Tim O'Brien's award-winning novel about an infantryman who decides to walk from Vietnam to Paris for the peace talks.