Vietnam

Vietnam Stories: Writing the “Disremembered” Histories of War

When telling a story, and it doesn’t matter if that story is long or short, fiction or nonfiction, the marginalized writer must be defiant.

So says writer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Defiant is not the first descriptor that comes to mind for this particular writer, a Vietnamese refugee and UC Berkeley alumnus, who in fall 2016 wore a royal blue suit, purple tie, and orange socks at the Pulitzer awards banquet in Manhattan to accept the Fiction award for his debut novel, The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015). Flamboyant, maybe. Defiant, no. Read more about Vietnam Stories: Writing the "Disremembered" Histories of War »

From the Winter 2016 Reality Bites issue of California.

“Did You Kill Anybody?” I Just Didn’t Say Anything, Because People Didn’t Have a Clue

I enlisted in 1966, in the Navy, so that I wouldn’t be sent to Vietnam. But it didn’t work out that way. I was sent to work as an advisor to the Vietnamese Navy’s swift boat operations in Qui Nhon, north of Nha Trang; beautiful country, beautiful people.

We had about ten boats operating there, and about 20 U.S. personnel. The mission was to patrol the coast to make sure the North Vietnamese weren’t coming in with contraband. We also worked with Seal Team One insertions and did MEDCAPs, where we’d take corpsmen or doctors in to treat villagers without medical care. Read more about "Did You Kill Anybody?" I Just Didn't Say Anything, Because People Didn't Have a Clue »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

All Quiet on the DMZ: The History of the Cold War Didn’t Always Make History

We all have a certain subset of memories burned deep in our forebrains: images so vivid, so invested with emotion that the decades serve to sharpen rather than diminish their resolution. It could be a few mental frames from childhood: a tableau of mother and puppy on a vast expanse of lawn. Or a traumatic event: the onrush of ruby brake lights just before a collision. Such memories seem fixed in amber, impervious to time; richly detailed images that can be examined again and again from all aspects. Read more about All Quiet on the DMZ: The History of the Cold War Didn't Always Make History »

From the Spring 2016 War Stories issue of California.

Rising from Ashes Like a Phoenix, Burn Survivor Aims to Lift Others With Her

Kiki Vo and two of her four sisters scurried down the dirt road leading from their family’s hut in Hiep Thanh, Vietnam, a flickering kerosene lamp lighting the way past sleeping chickens. The sisters were on a mission to smuggle some late-night candy from their mother’s shop after a day of studying. They whispered about the possibility of rain the next day, imagining they could shed their clothes and run wild in the downpour. Read more about Rising from Ashes Like a Phoenix, Burn Survivor Aims to Lift Others With Her »

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