Like the books that I've read befor ...more
Outside of M.A.S.H. and little bit from an American History class, I don't have a lot of knowledge of the Korean War, especially from the Chinese perspective. This story is not told as a history of the conflict, but is the first-person account of a POW. Along the way, you get a little bit of the social and political background, but mostly it's Yu's struggle to thread the needle between the communist and the nationalist and, ultimately, his desire to get home. By coincidence, this is ...more
This PEN/Faulkner award-winning novel is the fictional memoir of Yu Yuan, a POW at several camps and a frequent pawn between the pro-Nationalists and the Communists. It's a dense read with some serious history and military strategy. The scale of human s ...more
Critics agree that War Trash, by the National Book Award-winning author, has an unusual tone. Yu's methodical, even pedantic storytelling of the Chinese soldiers taken prisoner by U.N. forces struck some critics as dull; many complained of slow patches. However, several readers praised this very slowness. To them, Yu's is the soft voice of a man who wants to record a painful past without sensationalism. The New York Times Book Review even called Yu "one of the most fully realized characters to e...more
Few American readers know much about the Korean War, despite the many American soldiers who were killed fighting in it and despite the large numbers of American military still stationed in S. Korea, because technically the war has not ended--only a truce has been declared. Still fewer Americans know much about the conflict between the Communist and Nationalist Chinese that pre-dated the Korean War and extended into that conflict. And even fewer know anything about the Chine ...more
War Trash is set duri ...more
The diplomats meeting in Geneva in 1929 hoped to enshrine protections for prisoners of war, but despite their careful enumerations, the agreement they cobbled together couldn't anticip ...more
The opening chapters actually involve some fighting in Korea, but these are sparsely detailed. Yu Yuan isn't much of a soldier - nor, really, are any of the so-called People's Volunteers, but they are th ...more
"Some men would not shoot their draft animals, but afraid other might kill them for meat, they set them free. Some of the horses and mules wouldn't go away and followed their former keeps to this shore."
"A large mole kept moving near the edge of Chaolin's left eye as he spoke."
"We were all like hungry ghosts, fearful but unable to stop wandering around."
"I hadn't come across a book for half a year. the deprivation had whetted my appetit ...more
I found this novel to be interesting chiefly because of its point of view. The horrors of war recounted here are unfortunately commonplace and the sit ...more
I thought it was an interesting choice by the author to write such a sympathetic character as the narrator of a pseudo-memoir. If this character is truly fictitious, then the author has all the freedom in ...more
This is not your standard war prisoner narrative; this is the story of two separate guerrilla insurgencies operating from inside POW compounds. It's fascinating to follow the development of culture, propaganda, and bureaucracy within the Communist and Nationalist prisons, and to see that (as with any militar ...more