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Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  80 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Although his career continued for almost three decades after the 1939 publication of The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck is still most closely associated with his Depression-era works of social struggle. But from Pearl Harbor on, he often wrote passionate accounts of America's wars based on his own firsthand experience. Vietnam was no exception.

Thomas E. Barden's "Steinbec
Hardcover, 190 pages
Published March 29th 2012 by University of Virginia Press (first published March 19th 2012)
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Mar 16, 2012 David rated it it was amazing
A grippingly personal compilation of Steinbeck's Vietnam war correspondence, "Steinbeck in Vietnam" is just as personably bookended by Thomas Barden's veteran prose. I hope these dispatches help those of my Iraq/Afghan generation of veterans, as much as Steinbeck's missals to Alicia connect with Barden's Vietnam generation. This is a good read across generations. My thanks to Thomas Barden for bringing these to light in a caring way.
Nancy Hartney
Jul 05, 2012 Nancy Hartney rated it it was amazing
Steinbeck must be commended for his efforts to report the VN war. He travelled to the country as a hawk, and by the time he left, a dove. He never seemed able to make the leap from his fictionalized "The Moon is Down" to the U.S. role in Viet Nam and the American soldier's occupation thereof.
Dec 28, 2012 Art rated it really liked it
still digesting.
Jul 30, 2015 Jerome rated it liked it
My rating of this book is somewhere between 3 & 4 stars.
For a writer of "The grapes of wrath", which is so socialistic in nature and message, Steinbeck took a hard turn to the right and became a believer in the Vietnam war and the "might makes right" conservative view. Of course it should be taken into consideration that he was there in 1967 when the powers that be were touting success stories that did not exist except in reports. Perhaps if he had gone there after the Tet offensive he would
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jan 16, 2016 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it really liked it
Shelves: vietnam
"...because I feel half informed, I am going to South Vietnam to see with my own eyes and to hear with my own ears"
from December 10,1966 New York essay.

Between Dec 1966 and May 1967, Steinbeck wrote a second series of columns forNewsday, also called Letters To Alicia.
Called such, they were a tribute to Alicia Patterson Guggenheim. (the recently deceased editor who had overseen its
rise to prominence.)
Drawn from various archives, they are the political and personal essays of Steinbeck as war corre
Jun 22, 2016 a.t.m. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful book written by a legendary author

A must read for anyone that is a Steinbeck admirer. This book is filled with deep insight about a time when America was so divided by the Vietnam war. This wonderful author chose to be where the troops were stationed throughout Vietnam and see for himself what was going on. This experience changed him and the fact that his son was serving a tour of duty as a soldier, while he was there, adds to this remarkable book.
William Trently
Mar 26, 2014 William Trently rated it liked it
I was surprised Steinbeck was a friend and admirer of LBJ. The author of Cannery Row and The Grapes of Wrath supported this war because "the U.S. was defending a weak and oppressed people" and because "our actions, he hoped, would be the moral redemption of the nation" (he had felt a decline in America's moral values). The longer he stayed in Vietnam, the more he realized this war could not be won. The editor's chat with the colonel on the final page is a great ending to this book.
David Ward
Jan 22, 2016 David Ward rated it liked it
Shelves: military, non-fiction
Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches From the War by Thomas E. Barden (University of Virginia Press 2012) (959.70433). Yes, it's that very Steinbeck, who was in his sixties in the 1960's and was somehow enticed to go to Vietnam as an observer/war correspondent with his wife in tow. I love Steinbeck's novels; I think that both The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are brilliant. However, I was not at all impressed by Steinbeck in Vietnam; something is simply "off" about this work. Perhaps his energ ...more
Aug 05, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A book well worth reading, even while I disagreed with many of the author's positions and conclusions. It is a time slice from 1967 while hope of victory in Vietnam still seemed logical to supporters. And it is a slice recorded as only a talent like Steinbeck with full access to US controlled areas could do.
May 02, 2012 Tanya rated it it was amazing
I got this from the library, and I think I'll have to purchase my own copy, as it works better as the kind of book to check in on intermittently rather than reading cover to cover. A little surprising, as expected (oddly enough), since Steinbeck often spoke in favor of the war despite his years of writing as a liberal hero. But the writing is absolutely perfect, allowing his slightly curmudgeonly notions to sneak into his traditional, gritty style. I laughed out loud quite a few times as he desc ...more
Jan 02, 2015 K.H. rated it really liked it
Perhaps not for everyone - but perhaps it should be.

Fans of the author will find much to like in this simply because it's Steinbeck being Steinbeck - sadly for the last time. Those interested in the Vietnam War will be treated with a unique perspective of both what it was like in its early stages by someone who was there and the politics surrounding it (well, Steinbeck's politics at the time anyways.)

This an important book and Thomas E. Barden deserves a lot of thanks for putting it together an
Jul 23, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
I read the Steinbeck dispatches from WWII and loved them for the way they illuminated aspects of the war that I had never read about before, and was hoping for more of the same from this book. Unfortunately, Steinbeck's need to justify the war dominates these dispatches, and they lose the anecdotal, behind-the-scenes element that animated the WWII collection. I read this book hoping to learn more about the Vietnam War, and finished it knowing not much more than I did when I started.
Aaron VanAlstine
Feb 28, 2013 Aaron VanAlstine rated it liked it
Steinbeck was commissioned to write a series of dispatches from Vietnam for a newspaper (I forget which.) For the most part they are breezy observations from all around Vietnam and SE Asia. One surprise was the barely disguised contempt that Steinbeck held for the hippy war protestors whom he saw as lazy, spoiled, and ignorant from the safety of their draft-deferments. This was surprising coming from a so-called lefty and champion of the oppressed.
David Josph
Dec 23, 2015 David Josph rated it liked it
Was an intriguing book. John lived an amazing life
Raymond Rusinak
Jul 07, 2012 Raymond Rusinak rated it really liked it

Great read but then again Steinbeck is probably one of my favorite authors. Very interesting hearing quite a different point of view towards this most divisive conflict. Can be a bit repetitive but that is mostly due to the nature of the original publication in a daily newspaper. The geographic descriptions are nothing short of Steinbeckian.
Marcia Chapman
Apr 18, 2014 Marcia Chapman rated it liked it
Interesting look at an important period in our history, keeping in mind all the authors biases. But reminds us of the whole story.
Apr 20, 2013 Adam rated it liked it
Interesting if you're a real fan of Steinbeck and his writing style. More of a personal take on the tours throughout Vietnam.
Mar 09, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Absolutely fascinating.
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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley
More about John Steinbeck...

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