A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and the Americans in Vietnam, Sheehan Neil, 1989. Sheehan’s Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning expose of America’s foreign policy in Vietnam is informed by Lt. Col. John Paul Vann, a disenchanted soldier who leaked reports to the press. HBO released a film adaptation in 1998.
Dispatches, Michael Herr, 1977. An incredible memoir of the Vietnam War by a former soldier who also coauthored the screenplays of the films “Apocalypse Now” and “Full Metal Jacket.”
Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, Frances FitzGerald, 1972. FitzGeralad’s classic account of the Vietnam War, told from a sociological rather than a military perspective, was a Pulitzer and National Book Award winner.
The North China Lover, Marguerite Duras, 1992. Almost a decade after her wildly successful novel, the Lover, Duras wrote an autobiographical account of the same events, recounting her own girlhood love affair with a much older Chinese man.
These Good Men: Friendships Forged from War, Michael Norman, 1989. Almost two decades after his Marine brigade was disbanded, a New York Times columnist tracked his comrades down and tells the story of how their fighting days marked their lives.
A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler, 1992. This collection of short stories, each one narrated by a different Vietnamese immigrant living in the state of Louisana received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1993. The 2001 edition contains two additional stories—Salem and Missing.
Paco’s Story, Larry Heinemann, 1987. An incredibly powerful novel about a serving in the Vietnam War by a writer who served with in the infantry with the 25th Division. It is considered by many to be the best fictional account ever written about this war.
The Lover, Marguerite Duras, 1984. Winner of France’s highest literary prize and a bestseller when it was published, this slim novel is a beautiful portrait of a young girl in Indochina and a colonial era rife with complexities.
The Quiet American, Graham Greene, 1955. Greene’s brilliant Saigon-set political novel about the havoc a naïve, young American Alden Pyle unwittingly wreaks in Vietnam at the end of the first Indochina War in the early 1950’s.
The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien, 1990. This haunting collection of stories about an American platoon in the Vietnam War reads like a novel as various characters and events reappear. A must read.
Up Country, Nelson DeMille, 2002. Paul Brenner, DeMille’s protagonist in the General Daughter, is brought back in this military thriller to examine the death of a young army lieutenant that took place during the Tet Offensive.
Apocalpyse Now, Francis Ford Coppola, 1979. Based on Vietnam vet Michael Herr’s screenplay, this film starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall captures the horror and chaos of the American’s war in Vietnam and has been compared to a modern version of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. It won the Oscar and Palme d’Or at Cannes and remains a classic for good reason.
Born on the Fourth of July, Oliver Stone, 1989. The epic adaptation of the true story of Ron Kovic’s experience in Vietnam and his return home in a wheelchair. With possibly the best performance of Tom Cruise’s career, the film won the Oscars for Best Director and Film Editing.
Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino, 1978. Winner of five Academy Awards, this film, which stars Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep, examines the ravages of war and its lingering impact on its veterans and those they go home to.
Full Metal Jacket, Stanley Kubrick, 1987. A haunting examination of the madness that descended on young soldiers sent to Vietnam and all of its gory consequences.
Platoon, Oliver Stone, 1986. Charlie Sheen (whose father Martin played in Apocalpse Now) stars with Tom Berenger and Kevin Dillon in this film that was based on Stone’s own experiences in Vietnam. It won the Oscar for Best Picture.
Good Morning Vietnam, Barry Levinson, 1987 – Robin Williams stars as an unorthodox radio DJ based in Saigon.
Goodbye Vietnam, Gloria Whelan, 1993 – The heroic tale of Mai and her family on their journey to escape Vietnam.