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Purple Days

Mark Ford, 12 May 1994

The Pugilist at Rest 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 571 17134 6
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The Sorrow of War 
by Bao Ninh, translated by Frank Palmos.
Secker, 217 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 0 436 31042 2
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A Good Scent from Strange Mountain 
by Robert Olen Butler.
Minerva, 249 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 7493 9767 5
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Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation 
by David Wyatt.
Cambridge, 230 pp., £35, February 1994, 9780521441513
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... North Vietnamese, in complete contrast, the conflict was the endgame of decades of fighting. As Bao Ninh – who fought in the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade of the NVA – makes devastatingly clear in his first novel, the sorrows of war were long a part of the fabric of everyday life in Vietnam. While most US troops served out their magical mystery tours ...

Merely an Empire

David Thomson: Eighteen Hours in Vietnam, 21 September 2017

The Vietnam War 
directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
PBS, ten episodes
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... show the range: a Marine, a woman, a Japanese American, a WASP officer and a grunt. I’ll add Bao Ninh, who enlisted in the North Vietnamese army at 17. He remembers that the strongest reason for killing American soldiers was to eat: ‘A GI carried enough food for a picnic.’ Bao Ninh is quiet, sardonic ...

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