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This is the powerful, deeply personal story of Vietnam's war against Americans as lived from the inside by North Vietnamese soldiers and villagers on the front lines. Vietnamese dissident Duong Thu Huong bears personal witness to the horror and spiritual weariness of ten years of war that claimed millions of Vietnamese lives.
Posted October 6, 2011
This lets the American into the private life of the "enemy" as the Vietnam war is seen from thier side. Very enlightening. EducationalWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 18, 2008
This was by far one of the most boring books I have ever read. There is absolutely no coherent plot, just the bizarre, fantastical dreams and pointless flashbacks of a Vietnamese soldier traipsing through the jungle. The narrator wanders around through the war zone, engaging in one pointless encounter after another, thinking about his long-dead mother, his friends' sexual fantasies, and shrimp sauce. There is no character development. One character after another is introduced, but they either die, or the narrator leaves and they disappear from the rest of the book. There is no apparent reason for their existence. A bunch of men die -but nothing happens! Read the first page, read the last page. Skip the middle. The back cover says something heroic about dodging bullets and bombs, but all this guy talks about is shrimp sauce and childbirth.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 1, 2002
The first thing I noticed about this novel is how much the main character's experience of war echoes the experience portrayed in American novels. There are striking similarities to the disillusionment of Rob Riggan's Free Fire Zone and Stephen Wright's Meditations in Green. And, like Nicholas Proffitt's Gardens of Stone, Novel Without a Name creates a disorienting and surrealistic effect through the use of disjointed time sequences. The narrator of Novel Without a Name is Quan, a twenty-eight year old who has spent the previous ten years in the North Vietnamese Army. At eighteen, when Quan left his village, his life was one of unrealistic idealism and bright hope for the future. As Quan says, 'This war was not simply another war against foreign aggression, it was also our chance for a resurrection. Vietnam had been chosen by history: After the war, our country would become humanity's paradise. Our people would hold a rank apart. At last we would be respected, honored, revered.' Ten years of war, however, have permanently damaged Quan's expectations. Even as he buried his friends and fellow soldiers, his own survival was in doubt. He has trouble finding enough to eat (rice, plants, even grubs), he must be constantly on the lookout for bullets and bombs and he eventually attempts to stave off the horrors or war by retreating into dreams and memories, much like Tim O'Brien's narrator in Going After Cacciato. Huong creates a feeling of disorientation and surrealism through her use of disjointed time sequences as she cuts back and forth between Quan's horrific experiences in the war and the joys of his idyllic boyhood. The only thing that could end a tour of duty for a North Vietnamese soldier was a crippling injury or death, itself, and this fact, coupled with the constant fear and weariness of jungle combat eventually drive one of Quan's best friends over the brink into insanity. The images of this once hearty young man, now an emaciated, nervous wreck, hurling himself against concrete walls and barbed wire as he sings nonsense to himself are disturbing in the extreme. It gives nothing of the novel's plot away to say that Quan eventually makes a long journey home during which he encounters a variety of damaged characters: a lonely woman soldier who begs Quan to make love with her; a young soldier who apparently starved to death in the jungle; a party official who selfishly complains that all young people are 'out for their own interests, never the glory of the party.' We also meet Quan's dour father; a variety of pompous bureaucrats; a con man without the slightest trace of a conscience; and a heartbreakingly young recruit who meets with extreme tragedy. The main problem I had with this novel is that the characters, especially the secondary ones, are not at all well-drawn and believable. In fact, many of them seem to be caricatures or stereotypes. This makes it more difficult to feel empathy with them and with their plight. The prose also feels quite stilted and wooden, although this may be a problem in the translation. The thing that makes Novel Without a Name an extremely worthwhile read is Huong's wonderful ability to convey Quan's profound sense of loss and dismay as well as his emotionally-damaged state of mind and loss of innocence. As Quan, himself, says, 'We never forget anything, never lose anything, never exchange anything, never undo what has been. There is no way back to the source, to the place where the pure, clear water once gushed forth. The river had cut across the countryside, the towns, dragging refuse and mud in its wake.' Novel Without a Name, despite its flaws, is a book well worth reading; a book that underscores the universality of the war experience and details the horrific experiences of guerrilla life in the jungles of Southeast Asia.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 3, 2001
I read this book for an appliction project on the fives theme of geography. It was very helpful giving explict details on all the five themes. Novel Without a Name made you feel as though you were in the Vietnam War. Giving you the very detail, Duong Thu Huong, gave a vivid image of the bombings and the way of life in the forest. If you could just imagen living in a shack made of Bamboo trunks and being limited to the foods you eat. This would be quit difficult. The way the author writes makes it seem as though life out in the forest is not that difficult if you use the resources you have. I feel this book is a great one for highschoolers to read. The very first page captured my attention and held it all the way through. If you are studying the Vietnam War this is a great book to read. I recommend this book for anyone to read. It's the best book I have ever read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.