Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Library Journal Reviews Nothing Ever Dies

Joshua Wallace of the Library Journal reviews Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War.

What does it mean to remember a war? Nguyen (English, Univ. of Southern California; The Sympathizer) explores this question through a critical analysis of the films, literature, cemeteries, statues, video games, etc. that memorialize the Vietnam War in the United States, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The author points out that America’s recollection of the conflict is more familiar around the world in large part because the country’s movie industry has a global reach, which is not the case for Vietnam. Nguyen argues that the military-industrial complex has learned the wrong lessons from this war– that victories are not necessary to perpetuate a battle’s existence. He advocates “just memory,” which includes (among other things) the ability to see both the humanity and inhumanity in ourselves an others as a way to redress this. The author also examines how the conflict is recalled by Vietnamese Americans, South Koreans, Hmong, and others.

VERDICT: This thought-provoking book is recommended for all student of the Vietnam War and those interested in historical memory. For a work that focuses more exclusively on U.S. memory, see Patrick Hagopian’s The Vietnam War in American Memory – Joshua Wallace, Ranger Coll., TX


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