Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fire in the Lake – Book Review

I have just read Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam written by Frances Fitzgerald, which is an informative and detailed book. The author, an American journalist published this work in 1973, before the end of the war and has received a number of awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

The book is a compassionate account of the plight of the Vietnamese and I feel is quite rare ever for today. The book looks at the Vietnamese culture, their beliefs and their way of life. It highlights their traditions and the importance on family and ancestral worship. The book delves into who the Vietnamese are, which is something the French and in deed the Americans never managed to do.

Fitzgerald’s analysis based on her time in Vietnam and significant research looks at the conflicts between the Communists and Anti-Communists, the corruption in the cities and the battle for a stable and secure government in South Vietnam. The book explains the North Vietnamese Liberation Front and how they strive for liberation and independence. Through candid prose it outlines how the Americans got it wrong and continued to do so over the course of the war for they did not understand the Vietnamese or the reality of Vietnam.

The book is well written and deeply powerful and 35 years after its publication is still an extremely important piece of historical writing.

I give this book “4 books out of 5”

I have also read Ho Chi Minh: From Childhood to President to Vietnam (self explanatory) and Dust on My Shoes (travel writing book from the 1950’s; a descriptive and interesting account of the dangerous travels through the Middle East and Asia)

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