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Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam
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Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  807 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
From the first impressions of troops newly arrived 'in country' to the agony of losing a friend in battle, these letters from over 100 men and women stationed in Vietnam tell a story more real and more powerful than any fiction.
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published April 28th 1985 by W W Norton & Co Ltd (first published 1985)
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(showing 1-30)
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This book is not for the faint hearted, but what could paint a more accurate picture of war than the letters of soldiers. They range from hopeful and beautiful to heart rending. You’ll find yourself smiling at the tenacity of the human spirit, and alternately crying at the futility of it all sometimes. The letters are fair in their representation of the men (and occasional woman) that served our nation, and fair in representation of the Vietnam. There are letters from soldiers writing about the ...more
Feb 17, 2008 jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this collection is incomparably moving and utterly compelling. it was adapted for the stage when i was in high school, and on opening night we had a large number of vietnam veterans in the audience. following the performance, we met privately with them, and we all sat stunned as grown men wept hysterically on account of the memories it brought back for them, as many of the veterans were the same age we were at the time of the performance when they first saw combat overseas. it was in that moment ...more
Mark Fallon
Feb 02, 2017 Mark Fallon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This beautiful book from 1985 is a collection of letters from soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen that they sent home while in Vietnam. Some of the letters read lie poetry, while others simply share the danger and drudgery of being in a combat zone. At the end of each letter, the editor included a brief note of when the writer wrote, where they were assigned and, in too many cases, how they died in Vietnam.

Should be mandatory reading for every member of Congress when they take office, and ever
Oct 01, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book was very good. It was different, but good. The book was basically just a collection of letters from hundreds of soldiers during the vietnam war. What i really liked about it was that some of the letters were from the same people, so you could kind of follow the solider’s and really get get a good perspective of what it was like over there. The letters where divided up into different chapters in the book based on what the soldier was doing at the time, for example, there would ...more
Mar 08, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Started reading this book on my summer vacation and couldn't put it down. I was sitting in this beautiful beach house, crying my eyes out at times because of the stories these letters told. A great book to read if you want to hear some of the real stories from the war.
Nick Plutchak
Jun 03, 2010 Nick Plutchak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this, do it now.
Laura Ostermeyer
Not an easy or light read but a most important one. This should be required reading for everyone.
Jan 02, 2017 Gayle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of the POPSUGAR 2017 Reading Challenge ("a book of letters"). This is not a book I would normally read, but my husband recommended it. This book is incredibly sad. I have come away with a new appreciation for veterans of Vietnam after getting a glimpse of what they went through.
This is definitely a more interesting take on the vietnam war than a straight history book.

The interesting thing about this book is that after each letter it tells you the fate of the soldier who wrote it. So sometimes theres a letter of the "USA USA, I killed 20 gook commies yesterday and I'm damn proud of it. I'm reenlisting" variety which is followed up by a " ______ Is now president of an investment banking firm in New York". And sometimes there is a "Dammnit why did I have to get drafted? T
Jul 13, 2015 Gina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, favorites
I was first introduced to this book my junior year of high school. We watched the video version of Dear America in my American history class. At the end of the video, it talks about the book. I went out and picked up a copy shortly thereafter.

This book is one of the most loved in my collection. I can't tell you exactly how many times I've read it, but it's at least once a year since I bought it (in 2003).

Even after having read it so many times, Dear America is no less poignant and powerful. I f
Jun 06, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
Much has been made of the Vietnam War being the first shown to the American public on television and in relatively uncensored photographs, so maybe it's that narrative that prompts this feeling, but: as touching and painful as these letters are, they simply aren't as powerful alone as the HBO special (same name) for which the letters, read by actors, provide the only narrative over film and pictures of the war and the boys (the children) who fought it. I will finish reading this, and I will cont ...more
Sheela Word
4.5 stars. A well-organized and diverse collection of letters written by Vietnam soldiers and rear-echelon and medical personnel. Some are eloquent, others less so. Some try to tell the truth, others to conceal it. I found myself jumping first to the italicized paragraph following each letter, so that I could learn the fate of the correspondent prior to engaging emotionally with the material.

The collection has a cumulative effect. For me, it was particularly sad to learn that many of those who
Aug 04, 2008 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The book is exactly what the title says -- actual letters home written by the men -- boys, really -- who served on the front lines of Vietnam. After each letter there is biographical information about the writer, including his fate.

The letters are so honest and compelling, and so wrenching that I can hardly wait to get to the end to see the author's fate. And there's the double-edged sword -- it's heartening to read that he came home, heartbreaking to read that he was killed in combat.

This book is a compilation of letters (and some poems) written by Americans in Vietnam during the war. Each letter is followed by a brief description of when the person served and either what they were doing at the time of publication, or how old they were when they were killed. It was sad to read comments about these guy's future plans only to find out that they never made it that far. However I found it very interesting to read about the varying thoughts that went through these young men's (an ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've never known much about the Vietnam War, but this incredibly moving, raw perspective of the war from the voices of actual soldiers though their letters home left me with an incredible sense of admiration and gratitude for the courageous sacrifices of those who defend and fight for freedom. I loved reading about the heroic acts and demonstrations of loyalty and bravery, but even more so, the admissions of genuine fear, anger, insecurities, and confusion about the purpose of what they were doi ...more
As a college student in the Vietnam era, this war and the events around it shaped my entire life. Not because I was there, but because it changed so many outlooks in the US. This book followed the same pattern--from unquestioning service to questioning everything we stood for. "Dear America" started a little slowly, but gained speed, and more than once in the second half of it, I found myself tearing up, thinking of all the people of my generation who were scarred by it, and (as is numbingly app ...more
Apr 14, 2007 brook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in war correspondence
This is a really bare-bones book. At the beginning of each chapter is a description of the letters contained therein (last letters home, "cherries", etc), and a little bit of melodrama. But after that, it's just letters home, with very helpful footnotes as to who each soldier was, what became of them, and where they are "now" (the book was published a while ago) if they survived the war. Very straightforward, and very, very moving.
Jan 10, 2010 RYCJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-keepers
This is one of the very few books where I've both read the book and watched the movie. Both were equally powerful. One of the most difficult things to do is to stand in another man's shoes. That's what reading this book felt like. Men sharing parts of what serving in Vietnam was like through letters written home; many of them letters they never expected to be published. Another part of history that has touched me for a very long time.
Oct 17, 2010 Al rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love to just walk around in book stores and look for treasures. I found this book in Half Price Books, and I knew I had hit gold.
I was just a little bit younger than the guys that served in Vietnam. However, I have worked with, and known, too many of them to count. This book gave an insight into their world that I had never been privileged with until now. I respect and appreciate these wonderful Americans of my generation.
Jan 05, 2013 Tamara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason that I did not give this book five stars is that it has been heavily edited. The editor stated as much in the beginning of the text. So I imagine that a less censored compilation would have produced a more representative picture. but the caution is understandable since this book was published in conjunction with the opening of a new Vietnam memorial.
Apr 02, 2016 Jan rated it really liked it
each of us
is a can of tomato paste
and though we may not
all have the same label
as we spin thru the air,
when we land too hard
or get torn,
from the outside or within,
we spill out and
stain the hands of everyone
who knew us
- Capt. Michael O'Donnell, MIA, shot down near Ben Het March 24, 1970
Mar 07, 2011 Cassidy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a long hard look at wartime and how if affects the soldiers living it. Each chapter filled with letters that have a specific theme, be prepared to cry, cringe, and cheer your way through it. It made me more grateful for the sacrifices made by not only the soldiers during war, but their families as well.
Jul 01, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
This book was incredible. It was so heartbreaking and raw and beautiful. I usually don't like books assigned for school, but this was such an important read. This book sparked so many emotions in me and taught me so much about the Vietnam War and soldiers on the battlefield. I'm sobbing. Everyone needs to read this.
David Ward
Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam by Bernard Edelman, Editor (W.W. Norton & Co. 2002)(959.70438). More than 200 letters home from Vietnam era servicemen to family, friends, and others have been selected for publication in this volume about the most intimate thoughts of the soldiers who served in Vietnam. My rating: 7/10, finished 2005.
Brit McCarthy
Absolutely no words can describe exactly how this book made me feel. Not having much knowledge on the Vietnam war, this book really opened my eyes and my heart - it really made me feel something, just reading these simple letters home. I'm very, very glad I read this book.
Mar 16, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mel
I read this in the 6th grade when I was obsessed with the Vietnam war. Reading the letters sent home will tear your heart out. It gives an individual and human voice to those who are often thought of as a collective, rather than real people who lead real lives.
Jul 08, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a collection of letters that were written home from soliders during the Vietnam War. This book does a really good job of showing what the troops were feeling while in the Vietnam. It is very sad but a must read.
Jan 10, 2014 Brent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very sad yet amazing book, its very sad to see these letters written home to families, friends, wives. and to find out that that same person was killed in action only a few days later. in this book you can really understand what those people actually felt about what they were doing.
Feb 16, 2008 Susie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I've read it, but I recall that it was a collection of real letters from soldiers fighting in Vietnam. It was moving to see how ordinary people had to deal with the horrors of war...
Oct 15, 2008 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the movie years ago and immediately went and got the book. This is one that broke my heart - I could imagine the voices of so many young men, lost and broken in not just vietnam, but in the grasp of war. This made it real for me.
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Goodreads Librari...: Page number for Vietnam book 2 16 Jun 17, 2014 10:45AM  
  • A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of 26 American Women Who Served in Vietnam
  • Home Before Morning
  • Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans
  • The Vietnam Reader: The Definitive Collection of Fiction and Nonfiction on the War
  • Women's Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present
  • Nam: The Vietnam War in the Words of the Men and Women Who Fought There
  • Letters of a Nation
  • Shrapnel in the Heart: Letters and Remembrances from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails, 1840-1849 (Covered Wagon Women, #1)
  • Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora
  • And a Hard Rain Fell
  • Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character
  • We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam
  • Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War
  • Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides
  • Once Upon a Distant War: David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett--Young War Correspondents and Their  Early Vietnam Battles
  • Letters of the Century: America 1900-1999
  • Five Years To Freedom

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“They tell me the letters I write to you and leave here at this memorial are waking others up to the fact that there is still much pain left, after all these years, from the Vietnam War. But this I know. I would rather to have had you for 21 years, and all the pain that goes with losing you, than never to have had you at all.” 2 likes
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