Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fire In The Lake

France Fitzgerald's Pulitzer Prize winning history delivers...

One day in the late 1970s, while attending the University of North Dakota, I was told by a older student who had spent his youth and his innocence as an American GI "busting his hump" across South Vietnam, that this was the best book ever written about America's involvement in Southeast Asia. Here I am, some 40 years later, much older than he was then, finally learning the truth of his sage advice. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam remains thoughtful, incisive, and passionate while maintaining a sense of detached credibility.  Frances Fitzgerald wrote Fire in the Lake in a series of layers, each building upon those that precede and underlie it, Vietnamese, French, American. Her writing is dense with detail, yet skillfully fluid.  I won't pretend its 590 pages flew by, but each one was as important for its content as it was enjoyable for its craft.  Much of what I thought I knew about American involvement in Vietnam at the time, and in the decades since, was woefully incomplete until.  I regret waiting so long to read this fine history of one the most formative issues of my generation.