Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam

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Overview

"An overwhelmingly eloquent book of the purest and most simple writing on Vietnam."—David Halberstam
More than twenty-five years after the official end of the Vietnam War, Dear Americaallows us to witness the war firsthand through the eyes of the men and women who served in Vietnam. In this collection of more than 200 letters, they share their first impressions of the rigors of life in the bush, their longing for home and family, their emotions over the conduct of the war, and their ache at the loss of a friend ...

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Overview

"An overwhelmingly eloquent book of the purest and most simple writing on Vietnam."—David Halberstam
More than twenty-five years after the official end of the Vietnam War, Dear Americaallows us to witness the war firsthand through the eyes of the men and women who served in Vietnam. In this collection of more than 200 letters, they share their first impressions of the rigors of life in the bush, their longing for home and family, their emotions over the conduct of the war, and their ache at the loss of a friend in battle. Poignant in their rare honesty, the letters from Vietnam are "riveting,... extraordinary by [their] very ordinariness... for the most part, neither deep nor philosophical, only very, very human" (Los Angeles Times). Revealing the complex emotions and daily realities of fighting in the war, these close accounts offer a powerful, uniquely personal portrait of the many faces of Vietnam's veterans. Over 100,000 copies sold.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
“Not a history book, not a war novel.... Dear America is a book of truth.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Dear America is more than correspondence from homesick GIs. It is a collective letter to the nation and its government, a plea that asks: Why did you do this to your children? To America? For the sake of our country, don't let this happen again.”
Baltimore Sun
“Dear America is painful, but it must be difficult to be realistic and entertaining about war.... Reading it, I felt I was listening to the voices of the men and women who lived and fought in Vietnam.”
Washington Post Book World
“Dear America tells of an ache as ancient as time—adolescents off to war with high expectations, who soon change greatly. Ambiguities abound—from pain, disillusionment and sorrow for dead comrades to a hard-earned measure of individual strength and survival.”
Kurt Vonnegut
“Here is the sad and beautiful countermelody of truth, audible at last, now that we have trashed the drums and cymbals of yet another senseless war.”
Peter Arnett
“No full understanding of the most disastrous foreign war in American history can be complete without reading these letters from the GIs to their loved ones back home.”
David Halberstam
An overwhelmingly eloquent book of the purest and most simple writing on Vietnam.
Boston Globe
Not a history book, not a war novel....Dear America is a book of truth.
Bob Herbert
Always an extremely moving read, but I think never more than now.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a poignant collection of letters and poems, mostly to loved ones back home, written by soldiers while serving in Vietnam. Ordered roughly by a typical GI's year of service arrival ``in-country,'' leave, etc., the selections range from brave and philosophical to raging and grief-stricken. ``Last Letters,'' the chapter containing missives sent by men shortly before their deaths, is particularly haunting. ``This book provides valuable insight into what `grunts' went through,'' PW stated. Major ad/promo. February
KLIATT
Originally published in 1985, this collection of over 200 letters still provides a moving account of the war in Vietnam. In 1988, an HBO film starring Tom Berenger, Kathleen Turner, and Robert DeNiro, among over two dozen other actors, featured readings of these real letters from soldiers as newsreels, home movies, and music from the era provided a backdrop. David Halberstam says, "An overwhelmingly eloquent book of the purest and most simple writing on Vietnam," and the Boston Globe review states, "Not a history book, not a war novel, Dear America is a book of truth." In the 2002 introduction to this edition, Senator John McCain writes: Dear America tells another story, at once uplifting and tragic: how young Americans, proud and scared, lived, suffered, and died for their country and their convictions in a war as distant from the United States as the Western front was near the homelands of the Allied troops in its trenches (during the Great War). The light that shines through the words in this volume, radiating from the fog of war, illuminates the conscience and character of America. A proud and triumphant nation, now engaged in a new struggle for freedom, we remember. Powerful primary source material for history classes and students. Category: History & Geography. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1985, Norton, 328p., , Norwood, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393323047
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 234,831
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Edelman served as a broadcast specialist/correspondent in Vietnam. He is the author of Centenarians: The Story of the 20th Century by the Americans Who Lived It

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 7, 2012

    Excitingly Real. Dear America: Letters home from Vietnam is an e

    Excitingly Real. Dear America: Letters home from Vietnam is an excitingly real book. These are not just stories or accounts of what was happening, these letters were written during the war, in the middle of battles and on cold rainy nights. The letters put you in the place of the solder you feel the terror, love and excitement that they felt. You really get to know the men because there are several letters from the same people, or they speak of each other. The letters also show what it was like on the front lines instead of seeing films or hearing a person talk about what it must have been like. The men sent graphic accounts home, letting their family know that they where alright, but these terrifying battles had happened. The letters where funny, frightening, and heart wrenching, it was hard not to cry sometimes. I can only imagine what it would be like to be one of the family members back home, receiving one of the letters, or writing then out in the field.
    I actually had to read this book for English class, but I am exceedingly glad I picked it. I really liked how they had poems and letters both, and organized the letters in to sections and gave a short explanation of what was happening in the war when the letter was written, which made the letters themselves easier to understand. I really liked how they told you what had happened to the solder after the war, or if they where KIA, I was saddened every time I saw that. I didn’t like how sometimes I could not understand the “army talk” (as I like to call it) but the editor put a very help full glossary! This book is amazing and i would recommend it to anyone, for school or not. I give it 5/5 starts.

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  • Posted September 7, 2012

    A Fun Historical Read! Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam f

    A Fun Historical Read! Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam forward by William Broyles Jr.is an amazing book that is told through the letters of Americans in Vietnam both behind the lines and on the front lines. The Vietnam War was one of the ugliest worst wars that America has had and the story shows you what it was like for the people who were there in a breathtaking arrangment of letters. The book takes place over 5 years starting shortly before the war to shortly after the war. In the novel you get to see the wide range ideas from the people in the war on the war. The book moves you emotionally and really makes you feel like you have neglected the fact that the was was such a brutal point in American history. This book is one of the best books that I have ever read out of both fiction and nonfiction stories. The author puts you through the excitement, the sadness, and the relief that the people who wrote the letters experienced. I wasn’t the kind of person who liked to read nonfiction books but I highly recommend this book to anybody. I recommend it even if you arent huge on wars of nonfiction books due to the fact that you really learn a lot about what really happened during this shady part in history. This book really makes you realize that nobody could really understand what these people were going through and what sacrifices people made for America.
    The book is captivating, inspiring, moving, and a book of truth. If I were to give this book an overall reading I would give it 5 stars, a 10 out of 10. I can’t discribe to you just how fantastic this book really is so I hope you will read it and learn for yourself. Enjoy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    Truly inspiring and well written! Dear America: Letters Hom

    Truly inspiring and well written! Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam definitely captures the essence of the Vietnam war. The entire books is all real letters from soldiers that were stationed in Vietnam. Some of the letters are from teens that we're killed in action and some are from teens that made it through their deployment. There are even multiple letters from one person to another. These are especially intriguing to read because you get to follow one person through the entire war or for some, through a few months.
    I liked being able to actually understand the war from a primary resource and none of that history book mumbo-jumbo. History books never tell the true story unlike this book. Dear America shows the war from a first person perspective. None of these men write their stories in an over complicated way allowing the reader to read every letter as if it was a high school student writing it. Every letter fits in with the letters previous to it or after it. If you didn't have names in there it would almost seem like it was one person who was very active in the war but loved writing letters home.
    Honestly, I really did not find any parts I disliked about it. It was put together well and never went overboard one one subject.
    If you like reading about wars or just enjoy a true story, this book would be for you. You get up close and personal as if you were sitting right next to the men writing their letters. You feel the emotions of the writers and the hardships they endured.
    Overall I give this book a 5/5 stars for the great idea of putting real letters together to make a book that actually shows what the war was really like.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    Amazing heartfelt book, A must read

    Dear America: Letters home from Vietnam was truly one of the best books I have ever read. It not only conveyed stories and emotions but it actually makes the reader feel them as well and puts you in the soldiers shoes which is more than I ever expected to get from this book. In the beginning are letters from when the soldiers first arrive, the letters aren't too heavy, rather light hearted, subjects you might talk about with your neighbor. As the book carries on the letters transition to horrendous and tragic war stories. They show you first hand the hardships the soldiers went through, watching their best friends be captured and killed right before their eyes. This book is really a must read, you don't need to be a history buff to enjoy this book. It puts everything into perspective and shows you that no matter how hard you think you may have it is nothing compared to what these soldiers went through. The major message that got through to me from this book is being thankful for what you have. Too many people, including myself, take what they have for granted. This book taught me that I should feel blessed that I have place to go home to every night and a family that's going to be there for me every day. Another major theme in this book was bravery. "They're just kids, 18, 19." The majority of the soldiers weren't even in their twenties yet and they still risked everything they had to protect America. I had never realized how lucky I was to live in a country where people are willing to fight and protect each other voluntarily. I think anybody that can find time to read this book should because it gives such a good understanding to how lucky we truly are. The only thing I disliked about this book was how depressing and vivid some of the letters were, but it couldn't possibly have the same effect without that. This was honestly an amazing book 5/5.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    Gripping Book!

    Letters from Vietnam conveyed an atmosphere of empathy that a lot of war books don't. It makes you feel for the guys back in the day that were forgotten away from home. Dear America is a story told through the pen of all the soldiers that were there when it happened, some who didn't make it back. It starts out with a "no problem" attitude that warps itself into a homesick "I need to get out of here." In the beginning, the troops tell stories about what you'd expect: life, food, weather, but as the war carried on, they mindlessly wrote about the horrors that the had witnessed. Through the book, I found it very hard to set this book on to do other activities, except through one small chunk entitled "War at the Rear. Though boring, it is still important to understand that some troops had it easier than the guys thick in the jungle. IF you have the time, you should definitely take the time to read this thrilling but sad tale of the war in the 60's and 70's. It really makes you feel respect for the troops that suffered in the future from the war. Overall, I rate Dear America: Letters from Vietnam 5/5 stars.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    An extraordinary read.

    This book is a very fascinating read. This is a book that you wouldn't regret to have read. This book is real as it gets with the Vietnam War. It captures the feel of the late 60's and early 70's during the war and all of the mixed feelings on how Americans thought of the war. This isn't a bias book. It contains both point of views of different soldiers who fought in the war such as the "gung-ho" soldiers who really believed that fighting the war to stop communism was a good thing, and they also show soldiers feelings of the war who thought it was a waste of time and America made a big mistake to get involved in Vietnam. I really liked the fact on how real this book is. It's not a fiction book but a collection of real letters from Vietnam from real US soldiers who were actually in Vietnam in the midst of war. Since it's a collection of many letters, this book is quite simple to read but these letters are very powerful and well thought letters. These letters really capture multiple emotions on how the soldiers felt during their tour in Vietnam. There are examples of pride, anger, confusion, depression, home-sickness, joy, and the fear of uncertain death. Also, the letters would paint you a picture on the daily life of a US soldier in Vietnam such as walking through the streets of Saigon, going out to the jungles on "search and destroy" patrols, sitting around with friends at the base, going to the hospital after getting wounded, and being right beside their friends in their last minutes of life before their deaths. Another feature of this book that makes it even more fascinating is at the end of each letter there is information about the soldier who wrote it such as when they arrived and left Vietnam, the division and military branch they were in, where they're from in America, their careers after military life in Vietnam, and even a description of their deaths if they were killed in Vietnam. The part of the book I thought was really powerful was the last chapter which all the letters are categorized as "last letters" the soldiers would write before their untimely deaths. In these letters, some of the soldiers had not much longer of service in Vietnam and were very eager to go back home but would be killed a few days later. Some soldiers had a feeling or were prepared to die in Vietnam and some were on the brink of falling apart from the intense fear of dying in a strange and foreign country. Overall, this is a wonderful book and I recommend it to anyone interested in the Vietnam War.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2004

    A Must-Read for all of us

    Simpistic, yet incredibly powerful collection of thoughts and feelings of those that endured that time, both at home and 'in-country'. For the War or against it, you will not get through this collection of personal reflections with a dry eye!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2003

    Great Book For People Not Normally Interested In History!

    This book is really wonderful! It gives so much incite into the soldiers lives. It makes you feel like you know them. It helps you to better understand the pain and horrors soldiers entailed. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who protest war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2002

    A Meaningful Sight

    I thought this book was one of the best book that I have ever read about Vietnam (and I've read quite a few). I thought it gave the reader a view into what the troops went through while they were in Vietnam. It gave look into what they thought about the war and what they thought of what was going on while they were gone. Reading stories where the characters were just that...characters....or reading books with facts were good, but this book is more. This book gives a human face to what went on in Vietnam. I think everyone should read this book...and be proud of our Vietnam veterns.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2002

    Strong, touching and true...

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is so specific, and every story tells you so much about the person who wrote the letter. I recommend this book strongly .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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