Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

Nothing Ever Dies Vietnam and the Memory of War FINALIST NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION 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 Sympat

  • Title: Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
  • Author: Viet Thanh Nguyen
  • ISBN: 9780674660342
  • Page: 132
  • Format: Hardcover
  • FINALIST, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION, 2016All 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 bFINALIST, NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION, 2016All 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 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.

    One thought on “Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War”

    1. A brilliant book about war and its never-ending consequences. Viet Thanh Nguyen dissects how society glamorizes veterans while dehumanizing victims, how certain industries profit from war and its bloodshed, and how we often only interpret wars from our own side (hence, why Americans call it the Vietnam War whereas the Vietnamese call it the American War). Nguyen gathers evidence from museums, monuments, novels, films, etc. to illustrate the devastating effects of war and how we often overlook th [...]

    2. This was a sluggish read for me. The language kept settling into bland assertions about the war and its aftermath, assertions that I found to be both self-evident, and overly verbose. The tone altered from intimate writing to academic writing, with little warning. Also I think you get away with writing sentences that begin with words like: "The Vietnamese in America understood that" only if you're writing a sociological study, and only if you have actually interviewed enough individuals in the g [...]

    3. I think the main points in this long academic treatment of topics surrounding war and memory are summed up in this Fresh Air interview.The author spent eleven years on the research for this book, and along the way also wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Sympathizer. I gave the novel five stars but despite the longlisting of this book for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction, I won't be able to rate this one as highly. It is clear that Nguyen is interested in war and memory. I was led [...]

    4. A thoughtful, erudite examination of the Vietnam War specifically and international relations in general. Nguyen presents a lot of thought provoking ideas and supports his arguments with well-reasoned logic and thorough research. Nguyen is both a first-rate academic mind and an excellent writer of prose, and both skills are fully on display here. I listened to it on audiobook, which was definitely a mistake for me. I expected this to be a softer, simpler book about the U.S. and Vietnam 50 years [...]

    5. I finished Viet Nguyen's latest a few weeks back, but I haven't posted anything yet because I've been mulling over its message. He doesn't pull punches in his critique of American adventuring overseas, nor does he fall back on a too-convenient portrayal of Vietnamese as victims. If nothing else, Nguyen's book is a clarion call for a full and honest assessment of inhumanity, in all its forms. This does not, however, mean that both sides are equal in this particular conflict. As Nguyen is quick to [...]

    6. Nothing Ever Dies is an academic essay about the Vietnam War or as the Vietnamese call it the American War. The memory you hold depends on, where you were physically and mentally during the war, from whom you receive the information from and who's version of memory you have received. This was a hard read. It requires a good deal of focus to digest the thoughts written with great density. The author obviously spent a great deal of time researching and pulling the complicated thoughts together. Th [...]

    7. This is a good read. It's an academic essay on a difficult subject. I highlighted more in this book than I have in any other book. Very thought provoking. I was not surprised by atrocities and cruelties committed by Americans. I was surprised by the interpretations of war and it's aftermath by Viet Thanh Nguyen. Kudos to Nguyen for an excellent piece of work.I agree with 99% of all in the book except sometimes I disagree with the degree to which his assertions or descriptions are true. For examp [...]

    8. I first watched Full Metal Jacket when I was in high school. I must have been 15 or 16 years old. Most of my friends had already seen it, and they would quote lines from the opening scene all the time. Sergeant Hartman, the senior drill instructor, eviscerates a group of Marine recruits on their first day at boot camp. He curses them in extraordinary turns of phrase, insults their racial backgrounds and physical appearances. The way my high school buddies related this scene led me to believe the [...]

    9. Viet Thanh Nguyen is just as brilliant in his work about the ethics of memory and war as he was in debut novel "The Sympathizer." I read this in two days - so impressed by his rigor, erudition and fairness.

    10. This book turned out to be a lot different than I was expecting. I had read Nguyen's short story collection _The Refugees_ about a year ago and liked his writing. I was expecting this book, based on the title, to be a set of personal reflections. It is that to some extent, but it is written in a far more "traditionally academic" style than I had anticipated. Over the course of the book, Nguyen develops related concepts of "just remembering" and "just forgetting," considering how we as individual [...]

    11. This non-fiction book by the author of The Sympathizer is a challenging philosophical analysis of war - particularly but not exclusively, the American War in Vietnam and its contemporaneous killings in Laos and Cambodia - and of the artificial and real juxtapositions that war requires and creates, such as humanity/inhumanity, warriors and civilians, actors and victims, memory and reality, "us" and "others", etc. Filled with profound ethical and historical concepts (I had to read many passages tw [...]

    12. Did not enjoy this. The reader sounded like a computer and I am never in the mood for reading english papers, even if it is about an important topic like this one. Listened to it on 2x speed most of the time just to get it over with!

    13. So many important lessons in this book, about how to consider our perceived enemies, how to re-consider ourselves and our capacity for good and bad, how our identities can be actively shaped, how to really forgive and how to make peace present instead of just make war absent.

    14. A beautifully nuanced and sophisticated cultural analysis of Vietnam and how the war in Vietnam is created and rewritten by American popular culture. An important book for anyone interested in how cultural capital, memory and power intersect."Comes from Martin Luther King Junior. "If America soul becomes totally poisoned," he said, "part of the autopsy must read Vietnam." 1"This is a book on war, memory, and identity. It proceeds from the idea that all wars are fought twice, the first time on th [...]

    15. A brilliant, accessible, beautiful, necessary book. Nguyen weaves together art and film criticism, analysis of cemeteries and monuments, literature and history. In doing so, he creates a compelling case for the need to recognize both the humanity, and the inhumanity, in oneself, one's own, and "the other." I am grateful for Viet Thanh Nguyen's voice speaking against war, against xenophobia, against unjust forgetting and unjust remembering. It's a voice to which we all need to listen.

    16. this was extremely, extremely dense and hard to read imo but it was so worth itit especially speaks to me as a first gen whose parents became vietnamese refugees during the war. and who has a “memory” that isn’t really mine about what happened during the war and how my parents lived through it, how they escaped from it, what they lost as a result, etci think every once in a while i will need to try to reread as there was just so much info to process

    17. I read mostly fiction, and this is a book of nonfiction essays; yet I loved it!Written by Viet Thanh Nguyen, who received a Pulitzer Prize for "The Sympathizer," his wonderful novel about the Vietnam War (or the American War, as the Vietnamese call it), this volume is FULL of new ways of looking at war, and NEW ideas about what it is going to take for humankind to stop engaging in it.For the Western reader the book includes enough detail about various Asian cultures, with an emphasis on Vietnam, [...]

    18. I have broken my rule about not giving ratings to books that I don't finish.I never finished this book and not due to any fault of the book. It is a truly dense, passionate book that I just could not give myself to at that time. It is serious and not shallow or superficial. It forces you to concentrate of what is being said. If you do not give it your full attention than you cannot follow what is happening in the page. To me it felt like a full on essay about the war and its effects on both Viet [...]

    19. This book will remain in my consciousness for some time, though at times the author became overly verbose and redundant in his efforts to maintain fairness and equality in thinking of all sides. The thesis and follow-through are strong, and this scholarly book on the war machine that is America and most other countries, the ethics of war and in/humanity, and equality in remembrance is something I haven't read anything quite like before. It's definitely a slow read—at times it takes days to get [...]

    20. "e shadow cast by the tower in which the powerful reside. These powerful believe themselves to be impartial, unbiased, fair, objective, and universal, and do not like to be reminded that they are not, or that their power depends on creating and targeting others."This is a brilliant exploration and call to change involving memory, art, and war but so much more than that. A thesis that asks us to judge ourselves and others by our inhumanity in hopes of overcoming that cruelty to others is going to [...]

    21. Much of the theoretical apparatus in Nothing Ever Dies seems dependent on Milan Kundera, and the primacy of novelists (Gina Apostol, W.G. Sebald, Karen Tei Yamashita, Vladimir Nabokov) over theorists is the kind of thing that thrills some and irritates others (I'm in the latter camp). His primary philosophical touchstones other than the novelists are Emanuel Levinas and Paul Ricoeur, both philosophers of ethics. In itself, that's fine, but one senses a deep distrust of what are arguably the domi [...]

    22. Geen gemakkelijk boek, maar wel een met een duidelijke boodschap. De schrijver is in Vietnam geboren, maar op jonge leeftijd met zijn ouders naar de VS gevlucht. In dit boek laat hij zien hoe wij omgaan met onze herinneringen aan de oorlog. Als overwinnaars zijn we altijd heroisch en romantiseren wij de oorlog. Dat is een ander verhaal voor de andere kant, de verliezers of de slachtoffers. Dit gaat grotendeels over de Vietnamoorlog (voor de Vietnamezen: de Amerika oorlog) en de periode erna, maa [...]

    23. I like books that make me think. This was an exception to my general preference for fiction. Using what we call "the Vietnam War" as the focus, this is a philosophical dissertation on war, forgetting, and the inevitability that being fully human means accepting our full inhumanity as well. In addition to all of the above, I gained new insight into a part of the world and a period of time that I previously knew mostly by stereotype and conventional wisdom. Worth the read, or in my case, the liste [...]

    24. Fantastic expansion on the sociological concept of collective memory - Nguyen, who won the pulitzer for fiction with last year's 'the sympathizer' - pulls together a dazzling array of high art, film, poetry and fiction from all sides of the Vietnam war into a cogent analysis of how governments and societies - large and small - appropriate, manipulate and dictate memories of past conflicts, most often to justify present and future ones. A must-read for anyone interested in the study of the inters [...]

    25. This is a fascinating series of essays about the war in Viet Nam that the Vietnamese call the "American War." Written by a Vietnamse-American refugee, the essays graphically and often disturbingly point out the disparity of that conflict and how it is viewed by persons on both sides (actually 3 sides - the U.S the North Vietnamese who were rebelling, and the South Vietnamese who also lost their part of the war). I found the book to be informative and engrossing.

    26. Eye-opening from a perspective that is very under-heard. It covers many novels, movies, and plenty of first-hand reporting from both the U.S. as well as Vietnam. I really enjoyed this book, that may have been difficult to read, but I felt much better after reading it. Very informative, and highly recommended.

    27. I found this is be a rather readable book, considering it was about ethics, which can sometimes get quite a bit deeper than I can follow.

    28. This is a carefully argued book about seeing "the other" and "the enemy" as human beings, not caricatures.

    29. A tough subject to talk about. I feel that Nguyen did amazing job pushing the subject matter with great thought.

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