Eric Piotrowski's Reviews > The Father of All Things: A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

The Father of All Things by Tom Bissell
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's review
Jul 13, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir, nonfiction, politics
Read from July 13 to December 05, 2010

Tom Bissell is a tremendous writer. I first learned of his existence through his video-games book Extra Lives. More than anything, I was impressed by his ability to criticize a game's faults, reward its successes, and avoid hyperbole, demonization, and hagiography. So I was very keen to see how he would approach the contentious topic of Vietnam.

I am woefully ignorant about that conflict, and I found this book to be a superb introduction. Intensely personal, it follows a trip Bissell took to Vietnam with his father. But woven around that memoir is a careful exploration of the key issues surrounding Vietnamese communism, anti-communist efforts in the region, and US involvement. Again, the author displays incredible intellectual honesty -- and dexterity, when necessary -- in giving each truth its due without neglecting blame or honor.

I've been lucky indeed to speak and correspond with Mr. Bissell. I'm amazed that a writer of his talent and profundity is kind and receptive enough to write back over and over when I email him questions and comments. Read him! Read his stuff now!

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