Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Why Are We in Vietnam?” as Want to Read:
Why Are We in Vietnam?
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Why Are We in Vietnam?

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  489 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
When Why Are We in Vietnam? was published in 1967, almost twenty years after The Naked and the Dead, the critical response was ecstatic. The novel fully confirmed Mailer's stature as one of the most important figures in contemporary American literature. Now, a new edition of this exceptional work serves as further affirmation of its timeless quality.

Narrated by Ranald ("D.
Paperback, 215 pages
Published August 5th 2000 by Picador (first published January 1st 1967)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Why Are We in Vietnam?, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Why Are We in Vietnam?

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 18, 2011 Lyn rated it it was ok
Norman Mailer’s Why are We in Vietnam? is obscene gobbledygook.

Characterized as New Journalism, and using as a literary technique an omnipresent stream of consciousness from the perspective of an 18 year old protagonist, a young Texan named DJ. I had to keep reminding myself that when this came out in 1967 it was probably edgy and avant-garde.

It is not timeless, though its rambling observation on American male ego could be. If one can get past the thick as molasses run on sentences and casual
May 26, 2008 Elmistico rated it really liked it
Shelves: roman-américain
Aussi paradoxal que cela puisse paraître Pourquoi sommes-nous au Vietnam? ne parle pas du Vietnam. En réalité la seule allusion faites au Vietnam se trouve dans les dernières lignes :

"Réfléchis Amérique à tête de cul, et médite un peu sur ton con. Peut-être comprendras-tu pourquoi nous somme au Vietnam."

Comme vous l'avez peut-être deviné, le livre ne mâche pas ses mots. Effectivement Pourquoi sommes nous au Vietnam est l'un des livres les plus violents et les plus glauques que j'ai pu lire dans
Mar 06, 2011 Patrick rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. I thought his stream of consciousness style distracted from the main theme, if in fact there was a main theme. I also think that the cuss words and sexual words also were present for embellishment purposes and thus did not forward the story line. Having said this, I did enjoy the 10% of the book that dealt with man's primal instincts in nature. I enjoyed the description on how man senses are heightened and he truly feels alive when he is in nature and faced with the unk ...more
Mar 18, 2008 Dan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A young man tells about a hunting trip he went on with his father. For me, one interesting thing about the novel is the way that, beneath the Oedipal tensions on the level of the action and in the narrator’s commentary, Mailer represents the generational struggles of the 1960s as a struggle between two concepts of masculinity (many readers may find either or both concepts hyper-masculine). In contrast to the John Wayne traditions of his father, the narrator’s masculinity represents something new ...more
Jan 20, 2013 Denis rated it it was amazing
This book was my first introduction to Monsieur Mailer. His writing reflects the grit and guts of an American original. Mailer was the raconteur par excellence of the outrageous. At turns farcical and absurd this novel gets in your face and stays there. Part parody, part satire and an all out anti-war tour de force it is worth re-reading. Mailer took important chances and pushed his prose to the limit here. It spills off the page. The pacing is full speed ahead non-stop frantic. That along with ...more
jessica juniper
Jun 23, 2008 jessica juniper rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The title is decieving...this book is not exactly about Vietnem, its about the psychological and sociological repercussions of that war on American society, and the young people faced with the prospect of that war. You have to read the whole thing cover to cover to completely understand it, but once you so your left amazed. My favorite Mailer book.
Oct 17, 2008 brian rated it it was ok
in a way mailer's stupid books make me love him more than his great ones.
May 31, 2007 Wally rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anti-war peaceniks
You've got to finish the novel to understand its brilliance.
Apr 19, 2014 Samantha rated it did not like it
Shelves: american
Mark Noble
May 29, 2015 Mark Noble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why are We in Vietnam is Norman Mailer’s novel protesting the war, first published in 1967. It is the last novel he wrote before writing his famous non-fiction accounts of the march on the Pentagon and the 1968 political conventions. Mailer was strongly opposed to the war and used a very creative, humorous but dark format to convey his feelings. The book is not about the war per se. It is told from the perspective of a young man at a dinner party to celebrate his departure to fight in Vietnam, a ...more
Ted Burke
Jun 19, 2010 Ted Burke rated it it was amazing
Mailer did try to understand the nature of evil imaginatively in a series of essays, novels, and journalism, most notably in his novels "An American Dream", a fictional piece where a Maileresque hero (the celebrity Mailer) willfully gives himself over to a violent impulse and seeks to rid himself of what he considers is killing him psychically : he murders his wife, steals a Mafia Don's mistress, beats up a character intended to represent to be Miles Davis, and defies the New York City Police De ...more

So I was going through my 'how many books by specific authors have you read' list here on GR and I discovered, to my surprise, that Mailer was number 3. It makes sense, I guess, pound for pound, since he did write more than...Saul Bellow, for one. And I've read a lot of his work.

Skimming the list of Mailer stuff, I realized that this wasn't on there. Well now, I'll be damned if I spent good time on this one without having it properly listed, so here it is.

I read it back in high school in the
Jun 15, 2010 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alaska, 2010-all, 2010
This is a tough one. It's about Alaska, which is why I originally picked it up, probably actually when I was (first) living here. But on my first try, I don't think I made it through even 5 pages before giving up. This time, I promised I'd make it at least to the part where they got to Alaska (probably p.45 or so), and by the time I did, I was hooked.

This is a weird book to recommend, because of the... shall we say, EXTREMELY colorful language. It's kind of distracting and hard to read, especial
Irene Lazlo
Por qué fuimos al Vietnam es un libro sucísimo a muchos niveles, los comentarios del narrador son racistas y machistas y hablan de necrofilia, incesto y heces constantemente. No creo que sea una novela que guste a muchos precisamente por el narrador, adolescente de Dallas, definición de basura blanca. Sin embargo el libro funciona perfectamente para mí, encaja con mi mentalidad y el mensaje satírico me ha calado muy hondo.
A pesar del tono de voz adolescente tan soez, se ve que Mailer sabe escri
Czarny Pies
Nov 18, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one. It should never have been published.
Recommended to Czarny by: My own mistaken impulse. I knew the author was against the Viet Nam war so I wanted to read his book out of solidarity.
Faute de pouvoir donne cinq etrons, je lui donne une etoile.

It does not get much worse than this. This repulsive and wildly obscene would not have been published if the author had not been extremely famous with a long history of books that had sold well.

Like the author I was against the Viet Nam war and attended anti-war demonstrations. However, just because you agree with an author does not mean that agree with what he does or how he does it.

Mailer's theme was that the USA was suffering from ma
why are we in vietnam? offers two teens from texas on a bear hunt in alaska, and nothing at all to do with vietnam. unless of course the bear hunt is an allegory and the two, wealthy, white teens are representative of america and the bear hunt itself --- hyper-violent, totally unecessary, an exercise in excessive masculinity, crude, groteseque, in bad taste, ultimately unwinnable --- is representative of the war america was waging at the time. mailer is an uncommonly powerful writer, but here he ...more
Jodi Lu
Aug 18, 2007 Jodi Lu rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Mailer fans, the poor suckers
I hated this, but I set myself up for a mess and at least it's very short. It's all hideous Mailer masturbation and no orgasm, and if you think THAT'S obscene, you should definitely NOT turn to any page and read any sentence. It was designed as a shocker intro (probably to Armies of the Night, which is actually about Vietnam, and Mailer Himself) and it would've been fine as that - even maybe woven in somehow as a lively tale about how American young Texans (at least) are wholly intolerable in ev ...more
Bears a relationship to An American Dream in that both are crafted via clumsy hammer blows, and also in the way that the title acts as a meaningful key to the author's intentions. But this is a grimmer, slimmer novel, and I liked it fine twenty years ago during a period in which I read a shelf of books on Vietnam (starting with Karnow's awesome history and then plowing through literature of the time). But it felt dated and obvious then, closer to the war itself, and I can only assume that now it ...more
Sean-patrick Burke
Feb 21, 2013 Sean-patrick Burke rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
It's rare that I can read an entire book in a day (4 kids & work & etc) but I did that with this. Firstly, it's not about Vietnam. It's the inner monologue of an eighteen year old Texas hipster who's at a dinner party. He's mostly remembering a hunting trip he took two years earlier. The hunting violence is a kind of educational experience for the narrator (see the last page of the novel for where he's going). It's weird and hippyish and perverted and funny, and it's definitely "of its t ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Jim rated it liked it
This book is, I believe, one of Mailer's first using his new style of "journalistic fiction". I read it before I ever went to Vietnam. Of course, it didn't answer the question posited by the title, and that was what I was looking for. That question continued to haunt me throughout my tour in country, and for a long time thereafter.
Nathan Holic
Feb 26, 2016 Nathan Holic rated it did not like it
Apparently visionary at the time of its release, this book is irritating and over-long, a concept that could've been accomplished in two pages but instead stretches for an incomprehensible 200. It's like reading a McSweeney's monologue that just keeps going and going and never says anything new. If that's your thing...enjoy!
Richard Epstein
Nov 07, 2013 Richard Epstein rated it really liked it
When Mailer was worth reading. I should say that when I recommended it to one of my professors, he read it and said, "But it's just a bad rewrite of 'Huckleberry Finn'."
Nov 28, 2014 Joeydag rated it liked it
Too long ago. Was there where the children are fighting about standing up their father and it is symbolic about our ignorance and folly in fighting overseas?
Lukas Evan
Dec 27, 2014 Lukas Evan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Three better questions: "Why am I reading this?" "Why does this book suck so much?" "Why was Mailer such a big deal?"
Apr 19, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
Excellent sociological and political criticism, this is required reading for scholars of the Sixties.
Ariana Diaz
Ariana Diaz rated it liked it
May 13, 2013
Patrick Doyle
Patrick Doyle rated it liked it
Sep 16, 2014
Danny rated it liked it
Feb 15, 2012
Ryan MacDonald
Ryan MacDonald rated it really liked it
Jun 30, 2007
John rated it really liked it
Oct 04, 2011
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Cover for OUP edition of Why are we in Vietnam 3 187 Jan 09, 2017 02:32AM  
  • The Vietnam Reader: The Definitive Collection of Fiction and Nonfiction on the War
  • Paco's Story
  • Chronicles of Dissent: Interviews with David Barsamian
  • And a Hard Rain Fell
  • In Flanders Fields
  • The Secret Agent
  • The Deer Hunter
  • Understanding Vietnam
  • Toys in the Attic
  • Old Angel Midnight
  • The Writings of Jonathan Swift: Authoritative Texts, Backgrounds, Criticism (Norton Critical Edition)
  • Washington, D.C.
  • The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan
  • Diaries of a Young Poet
  • The Hundredth Monkey
  • Stories of Five Decades
  • Reading Myself and Others
  • The Lives of Norman Mailer: A Biography
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once.
More about Norman Mailer...

Share This Book