David Cain's Reviews > Dispatches

Dispatches by Michael Herr
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's review
Oct 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 2011
Read in October, 2011

This is a searing look at the Vietnam War, told in a series of loosely connected stream-of-consciousness vignettes. There is not much of a narrative thread holding everything together, and some of the book is hard to understand without at least a basic familiarity with the history of the Second Indochina War. Nevertheless, this book works. For any fans of the movies Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket, you will enjoy everything here - the author was a screenwriter for both of those films, and draws liberally for both works from the events, characters, and quotes contained here. The focus is on the experience of the front-lines grunt as well as the wartime correspondent. Although not an antiwar polemic per se, it's hard not to reach some pretty serious conclusions about the futility of this conflict. By any measure, this is a classic work of war reportage and one of the finest examinations of Vietnam from someone who was actually there.

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