The Sorrow of War, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Kien's job is to search the Jungle of Screaming Souls for corpses.

He knows the area well - this was where, in the dry season of 1969, his battalion was obliterated by American napalm and helicopter gunfire.

Kien was one of only ten survivors. This book is his attempt to understand the eleven years of his life he gave to a senseless war.

Based on true experiences of Bao Ninh and banned by the communist party, this novel is revered as the 'All Quiet on the Western Front for our era'.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780749397111

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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Life is a battlefield. And what sticks with me most from Bao Ninh's amazing book, whose original Vietnamese title translates as "The Destiny of Love", it's the sheer power of life and love, that wonderful Asian committedness with which our young cadres bask in the long sun of youth and embrace life, magnificent, dedicated, ready to build something deep and real. And the power of total war, the kind that kills 4-6 million of your countrymen (sources vary, but 10% or more), to grind that into dust. They are young and strong and smart and brave! How can they die! But they do. They ALL do, and protagonist Kien is the only survivor of his unit. Phuong and Kien's love is potent, like a draught of chrysanthemum wine! How can it fail? But it does.<p>This is a story about the glory of youth and peace, the costs of victory, the breaking of a people, and the things that nobody can handle. The next time an American tries to present Vietnam as a story about the loss of America's innocence and the Vietnamese as gibbering, sneaky and cruel, I'm going to kick a bald eagle in the nards.

Review by

I read this in preparation of my own visit to Vietnam, and it did a lot to help me prepare for the kind of people I would meet: charming, intelligent, friendly, and with a healthy sense of the ironic. Yes, it's about the war, but also so much more than that.

Review by

In <i>The Sorrow of War</i> Ba?o Ninh tells the brutal, often tragically poignant story of a North Vietnamese soldier during the Vietnam War. In modern media, one often sees the effect the Vietnam War had on American soldiers and indeed on the American psyche but rarely does one see the Vietnamese side, and even rarer, the North Vietnamese side.<br/><br/>This story is told in a series of flashbacks as the main character, Kien, tries to come to terms with the brutal decade-long war that has ravaged his home and his mind. Autobiographical in nature, as Ba?o Ninh (like Kien) was one of ten survivors from his unit, and this portrays the psychological effects war has on its victims. At the same time, this is also a poignant love story as Kien and his sweetheart Phuong deal with their emotions surrounded by the ever-present spectre of war. <br/><br/>In short then, this is a powerful novel, akin to <i>All Quiet on the Western Front</i> not only for showing once more the horrors of war but also for giving a valuable perspective on the Vietnam War itself.

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