Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION, 2016

“Beautifully written, powerfully argued, thoughtful, provocative.”—Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990

“Readers will discover the roots of Nguyen’s powerful fiction in this profoundly incisive and bracing investigation…Nguyen’s lucid, arresting, and richly sourced inquiry, in the mode of Susan Sontag and W.G. Sebald, is a call for true and just stories of war and its perpetual legacy.” —Booklist, starred review

Is there hope for an ethics of memory, or for peace? Nothing Ever Dies reveals that, in our collective memories of conflict, we are still fighting the Forever War. Nguyen’s distinctive voice blends ideas with family history in a way that is original, unique, exciting. A vitally important book.—Maxine Hong Kingston, author of To Be a Poet

Thirteen years of fieldwork and research have gone into this book, which Harvard University Press is publishing in April 2016. From the descriptive copy of the book:

All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the bestselling novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.

Nothing Ever Dies coverFrom a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy” —or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen offers penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.

Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget.

Nguyen’s work is a powerful reflection on how we choose to remember and forget.Kirkus Reviews

This thought-provoking book is recommended for all students of the Vietnam War and those interested in historical memory.Library Journal

Nothing Ever Dies provides the fullest and best explanation of how the Vietnam War has become so deeply inscribed into national memory. Nguyen’s elegant prose is at once deeply personal, sweepingly panoramic, and hauntingly evocative.—Ari Kelman, author of A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek

Inspired by the author’s personal odyssey, informed by his wide-ranging exploration of literature, film, and art, this is a provocative and moving meditation on the ethics of remembering and forgetting. Rooted in the Vietnam War and its aftermath, it speaks to all who have been displaced by war and revolution, and carry with them memories, whether their own or of others, private or collective, that are freighted with nostalgia, guilt and trauma.—Hue-Tam Ho Tai, editor of The Country of Memory: Remaking the Past in Late Socialist Vietnam

ISBN 9780674660342, 310 pages, 43 halftones, $27.95 • £20.95 • €25.00

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