Nothing Ever Dies

Nothing Ever Dies

Vietnam and the Memory of War

Book - 2016
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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.

Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780674660342
Branch Call Number: 959.70431 Ngu
Characteristics: viii, 374 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

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lukasevansherman
Jun 08, 2018

"All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory."
Viet Thahn Nguyen is known for his terrific Vietnam novel, "The Sympathizer" and his book of short stories "The Refugees." This non-fiction book is subtitled "Vietnam and the Memory of War" and in it Nguyen, who is Vietnamese, but was raised in the United States by parents who fled after the fall of Saigon, explores how both Americans and Vietnamese have represented the war in history, culture, and art. To me, Nguyen's small canon serves an enormously important service, namely to give a perspective that has too often been absent from the narrative. As I've been reading his work, I was struck by how almost all I knew about the Vietnam War (Is any country so instantly identifiable with a war as Vietnam?) was from American writers, filmmakers, and historians. We think of it as our tragedy, not that of an independent country who lost millions of people in an unnecessary and immortal conflict. I think Nguyen has already emerged as one of the most essential writers of our time.

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