Vietnam War

Explore the history and lasting social impacts of the Vietnam War in this curated list of titles focused on the 20-year conflict. Through real-life accounts as well as historical fiction and poetry, a diverse group of authors examines the conflict in Vietnam, which lasted from 1955 to 1975, as well as the anti-war movement that erupted in the United States.

Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Identity: Femininity, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Colonialism, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Vietnam War

Publication year 1977Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, Vietnam War

Philip Caputo’s 1977 memoir, A Rumor of War, depicts Caputo’s true experiences serving as a Marine during the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Caputo arrived in Vietnam in March 1965, with the first fighting troops assigned to combat there, and soon learned that his romantic notions of war bore no resemblance to the bloody brutality he and his men confront in fighting the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army. As well as acknowledging the dehumanizing brutality... Read A Rumor of War Summary

Publication year 2014Genre Poem, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Order & ChaosTags Free verse, Grief / Death, Military / War, Vietnam War

Publication year 2023Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Mothers, Relationships: Daughters & Sons, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Emotions/Behavior: GuiltTags Relationships, Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Asian Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 1976Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, Vietnam War

Born on the Fourth of July is a 1976 memoir written by wounded Vietnam veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic. The memoir was adapted into a 1989 film directed by Oliver Stone; Kovic and Stone co-wrote the screenplay, which earned an Oscar nomination. In the memoir, Kovic describes his experiences in and surrounding his tours of duty in Vietnam, including why he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, how he was injured, and how... Read Born on the Fourth of July Summary

Publication year 2019Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, Immigration / Refugee, Vietnam War, Asian Literature

Publication year 2014Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Relationships: Family, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman

Publication year 1988Genre Poem, FictionThemes Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Emotions/Behavior: GriefTags Lyric Poem, History: U.S., Vietnam War

The poem “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa is a meditation on the first time Komunyakaa visited the US Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Komunyakaa served in the Vietnam War as an Army journalist for the military newspaper, Southern Cross, until he was discharged in 1966. He began writing about the war approximately 14 years after coming home from Vietnam.Prior to this, he had only written one poem about his experience in the war, and... Read Facing It Summary

Publication year 1988Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: War, Identity: Mental Health, Relationships: FriendshipTags Military / War, Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Vietnam War

Prolific children’s author Walter Dean Myers published his novel Fallen Angels in 1988. The young adult novel tells the story of a 17-year-old African American teenager from Harlem named Richie Perry who enlists in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. The novel follows Perry as he faces the realities of war with his fellow soldiers and transitions into adulthood on the battlefield. The novel contemplates racial and socio-economic issues in the US, the... Read Fallen Angels Summary

Publication year 1973Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, Vietnam War

If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home is an autobiographical account of writer Tim O'Brien's tour of duty in the Vietnam War. Published in 1973, it was one of the first major autobiographical accounts of the Vietnam War and has been praised extensively for its unflinching look at the horrors of armed conflict. Many critics have called it among the greatest pieces of literature to come out of... Read If I Die in a Combat Zone Summary

Publication year 2012Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Grief, Life/Time: Coming of AgeTags Historical Fiction, Auto/Biographical Fiction, Class, History: Asian, Politics / Government, Social Justice, Vietnam War

In the Shadow of the Banyan (2012) is a historical fiction novel by the Cambodian American author Vaddey Ratner. Set in the 1970s during the Cambodian genocide, the book’s perspective is from Raami, a seven-year-old girl and the daughter of a minor prince whose family is among the millions of Cambodians persecuted by the Khmer Rouge. While Raami’s story hews very closely to Ratner’s own real-life experiences, the author chose to write a work of... Read In The Shadow Of The Banyan Summary

Publication year 1994Genre Novel, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Determination / Perseverance, Emotions/Behavior: Hope, Emotions/Behavior: Loneliness, Identity: Masculinity, Identity: Race, Relationships: Family, Relationships: Friendship, Society: Community, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Art, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Self Discovery, Society: ClassTags Historical Fiction, Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Agriculture, Class, History: U.S., Poverty, Race / Racism, Social Justice, Vietnam War

Publication year 2012Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Society: Politics & Government, Values/Ideas: Power & Greed, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Society: War, Society: NationTags History: U.S., Politics / Government, Crime / Legal, Leadership/Organization/Management, Civil Rights / Jim Crow, Grief / Death, Vietnam War

Publication year 2014Genre Poem, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: LoveTags Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Immigration / Refugee, Vietnam War

Publication year 2015Genre Book, NonfictionThemes Self Discovery, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Justice & InjusticeTags History: U.S., Military / War, Politics / Government, Vietnam War

Publication year 1990Genre Poem, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Memory, Life/Time: Childhood & Youth, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Identity: RaceTags Narrative / Epic Poem, Love / Sexuality, Vietnam War

Publication year 2008Genre Novel, FictionThemes Values/Ideas: Religion & Spirituality, Relationships: Family, Emotions/Behavior: Apathy, Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Emotions/Behavior: Guilt, Self Discovery, Society: CommunityTags Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Animals

Publication year 1968Genre Essay Collection, NonfictionThemes Society: Nation, Natural World: Appearance & Reality, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Arts / Culture, History: U.S., American Literature, Vietnam War

Slouching Towards Bethlehem is Joan Didion’s 1968 collection of essays that document her experiences living in California from 1961 to 1967. It is her first collection of nonfiction (many of the pieces originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post) and is hailed as a seminal document of culture and counterculture in 1960s California. Didion’s style was part of what Tom Wolfe called “New Journalism,” which emphasized the search for meaning over the reporting of facts... Read Slouching Towards Bethlehem Summary

Publication year 2020Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: War, Emotions/Behavior: Revenge, Emotions/Behavior: Love, Emotions/Behavior: Forgiveness, Values/Ideas: Art, Values/Ideas: LiteratureTags Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Asian Literature

Publication year 1955Genre Novel, FictionThemes Society: Colonialism, Life/Time: Mortality & Death, Values/Ideas: Trust & Doubt, Society: WarTags Historical Fiction, Romance, Military / War, Vietnam War, British Literature

The Quiet American is a 1955 novel by Graham Greene. Set during the era of French colonialism in Vietnam, it tells the story of an English journalist who is caught in a love triangle with an American intelligence agent and a Vietnamese woman. Greene had published over a dozen novels before The Quiet American and was considered one of the most influential American authors during his career. He drew on his own experiences as a... Read The Quiet American Summary

Publication year 2017Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Emotions/Behavior: Conflict, Relationships: Family, Society: War, Life/Time: AgingTags Immigration / Refugee, Historical Fiction, Asian Literature, Trauma / Abuse / Violence, Vietnam War

The Refugees is a 2017 collection of short stories by celebrated Vietnamese American author, Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nguyen has written fiction, academic nonfiction, and children’s books, and his novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016. Nguyen received his doctorate in English at the University of California Berkeley, and he currently is a literature professor at the University of Southern California. Nguyen’s scholarship and literary works focus on the experiences of Vietnamese communities in... Read The Refugees Summary

Publication year 1990Genre Short Story Collection, FictionThemes Society: WarTags Military / War, American Literature, Creative Nonfiction, Vietnam War

Published in 1990, The Things They Carried is a collection of interrelated short stories about the Vietnam War written by Tim O’Brien. The historical fiction collection has been hailed not only as an essential piece of literature about the Vietnam War, but as a workshop in fiction writing itself. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a New York Times Book of the Century. It... Read The Things They Carried Summary

Publication year 2007Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Friendship, Society: War, Life/Time: Coming of Age, Relationships: FamilyTags Historical Fiction, History: U.S., Vietnam War, Children's Literature

Gary Schmidt’s middle-grade novel, The Wednesday Wars, follows seventh grader Holling Hoodhood as he navigates the difficulties of junior high in the late 1960s. Published in 2007, Schmidt’s novel blends historical fiction with a coming-of-age theme, and was given the Newbery Medal in 2008. This guide refers to the Clarion Books 2009 reprint edition. Plot SummaryHolling begins his seventh-grade school year at Camillo Junior High in Long Island, New York. From day one, Holling can... Read The Wednesday Wars Summary

Publication year 2021Genre Novel, FictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: War, Relationships: Friendship, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Truth & LiesTags Coming of Age / Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, Vietnam War, Trauma / Abuse / Violence

Publication year 2011Genre Graphic Memoir , NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Relationships: Fathers, Values/Ideas: Loyalty & Betrayal, Values/Ideas: Order & Chaos, Society: ImmigrationTags Vietnam War, Military / War, Immigration / Refugee

Publication year 1989Genre Autobiography / Memoir, NonfictionThemes Relationships: Family, Society: Colonialism, Society: War, Values/Ideas: Safety & DangerTags History: Asian, Vietnam War, Immigration / Refugee, Politics / Government