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Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

by Viet Thanh Nguyen


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All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.

From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy”—or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.

Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674660342
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/11/2016
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 939,956
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Viet Thanh Nguyen is Aerol Arnold Chair of English and Professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Just Memory 4


1 On Remembering One's Own 23

2 On Remembering Others 47

3 On the Inhumanities 71


4 On War Machines 103

5 On Becoming Human 129

6 On Asymmetry 156


7 On Victims and Voices 193

8 On True War Stories 223

9 On Powerful Memory 251

Just Forgetting 279

Epilogue 301

Notes 307

Works Cited 330

Acknowledgments 353

Credits 357

Index 361

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