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Dispatches

by Michael Herr

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,980543,942 (4.16)122
"The best book to have been written about the Vietnam War" (The New York Times Book Review); an instant classic straight from the front lines. From its terrifying opening pages to its final eloquent words, Dispatches makes us see, in unforgettable and unflinching detail, the chaos and fervor of the war and the surreal insanity of life in that singular combat zone. Michael Herr's unsparing, unorthodox retellings of the day-to-day events in Vietnam take on the force of poetry, rendering clarity from one of the most incomprehensible and nightmarish events of our time. Dispatches is among the most blistering and compassionate accounts of war in our literature.… (more)
  1. 10
    Chickenhawk by Robert Mason (Peter4444, chrisharpe)
    Peter4444: The autobigraphical recount of a young man who flew UH-1 Iiroquois helicopters in Viet Nam. He flew personnel rather than gun ships, but his take on what Viet Nam came to mean for him and how he ended up back in civilian life are a must-read, as well as the sequel "Chickenhawk: Back In The World"… (more)
  2. 10
    In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War by Tobias Wolff (kraaivrouw)
  3. 10
    In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Dispatches was the central source for the film Apocalypse Now. It's non-fiction, but it conveys the hallucinatory horror of the Vietnam War in the same way as O'Brien's novel.
  4. 00
    Teaching Hearts and Minds: Colege Students Reflect on the Vietnam War by Barry M. Kroll (villemezbrown)
    villemezbrown: One of the books discussed in the text.
  5. 00
    The Face of War by Martha Gellhorn (gust)
  6. 00
    Naples '44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth by Norman Lewis (gust)
  7. 00
    Territorio comanche by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (chrisharpe)
  8. 01
    Supernotes: het waargebeurde verhaal van de CIA-spion die ineens op de dodenlijst stond by Agent Kasper, (Luchtpint)
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» See also 122 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
When this came up in every list of “Best Nonfiction” books I reviewed, I decided it was time to add it to my list of books I’ve read - and loved. It truly is a marvel at conveying experiences unimaginable to those who weren’t there. ( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
As a Vietnam vet, I see a rambling mess, with the third dispatch, I quit. The guy is on drugs or was hit in the head with a rifle butt. Then what do correspondents know anyhow, in our unit they were NEVER near the front. A solider from the front would give them what they were looking for, a tall story, or not even talk to them. They were too lazy and to scared sh-t less to go see for themselves. They were a day late and a story short. All those 500 people were blind? I hate to give it to the library, someone else might read it. ( )
  Newmans2001 | Jun 15, 2022 |
This is a tremendous book. It reminded me of All Quiet on the Western Front in terms of its emotional impact, but was probably even a bit stronger.
To me, its strength is in its capacity to see and discuss the emotional impact of war and senseless slaughter on the otherwise good, gentle young men who would ordinarily never have done such things.
There are many books about war written by historians, journalists and others, but few written with the authentic gut wrenching pain that can only come from someone who has been there.
Both the Vietnam War with its 58,000 dead American casualties and WW I were senseless stupidities entered into not for the good of the country, but for the good of the “military industrial complex” described by Eisenhower.
This books mentions US bombers dropping 120,000,000 pounds of explosives on a small area in one week and accomplishing nothing militarily important except reinforcing the resolve of the “enemy” to expel us from THEIR country. How much money did the “defense” contractors make on 120,000,000 pounds of explosives? Why is life so cheap? ( )
  PaulLoesch | Apr 2, 2022 |
Rating from one to five stars doesn't really work for this book. You should read it whether you love it or hate it. ( )
  wunder | Feb 3, 2022 |
Vietnam,Vietnam, Vietnam.

War, no glorification, trying to get it down, trying to get it out.
Herr writes powerfully using different techniques for different sections, including normal narrative description, anecdotes and an attempt to analyse why war reporters go report on war.

The style reminded me of Thompson’s Fear and Loathing.., which I didn’t like. But here, for such a traumatic subject, it conveys the horror, the fascination, the doublespeak.

Mayhew turned it up. It still wasn’t very loud, but it filled the bunker. It was a song that had been on the radio a lot that winter.
There’s something happening here,
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there,
Tellin’ me I’ve got to be beware.
I think it’s time we stopped, children,
What’s that sound?
Everybody look what’s goin’ down . . .

(There is language that is specific for its time and place, even if that is only forty or fifty years ago, but if you don’t immediately understand, flow with it and it becomes clear) ( )
  CarltonC | Nov 16, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Herrprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alien, PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother and father
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There was a map of Vietnam on the wall of my apartment in Saigon and some nights, coming back late to the city, I'd lie out on my bed and look at it, too tired to do anything more than just get my boots off.
Quotations
Bob Stokes of Newsweek told me this: In the big Marine hospital in Danang they have what is called the "White Lie Ward," where they bring some of the worst cases, the ones who can be saved but will never be the same again. A young Marine was carried in, still unconscious and full of morphine, and his legs were gone. As he was being carried into the ward, he came out of it briefly and saw a Catholic chaplain standing over him.

"Father," he said, "am I all right?"

The chaplain didn't know what to say. "You'll have to talk about that with the doctors, son."

"Father, are my legs okay?"

"Yes," the chaplain said, "Sure."

By the next afternoon the shock had worn off and the boy knew all about it. He was lying on his cot when the chaplain came by.

"Father," the Marine said, "I'd like to ask you for something."

"What, son?"

"I'd like to have that cross." And he pointed to the tiny silver insignia on the chaplain's lapel.

"Of course," the chaplain said. "But why?"

"Well, it was the first thing I saw when I came to yesterday, and I'd like to have it."

The chaplain removed the cross and handed it to him. The Marine held it tightly in his fist and looked at the chaplain.

"You lied to me, Father," he said. "You cocksucker. You lied to me."
...what a story he told me, as one-pointed as resonant as any war story I ever heard; It took me a year to understand it:

"Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened."

I waited for the rest, but it seemed not to be that kind of story; when I asked him what happened he just looked like he felt sorry for me, fucked if he'd waste time telling stories to anyone as dumb as I was.
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"The best book to have been written about the Vietnam War" (The New York Times Book Review); an instant classic straight from the front lines. From its terrifying opening pages to its final eloquent words, Dispatches makes us see, in unforgettable and unflinching detail, the chaos and fervor of the war and the surreal insanity of life in that singular combat zone. Michael Herr's unsparing, unorthodox retellings of the day-to-day events in Vietnam take on the force of poetry, rendering clarity from one of the most incomprehensible and nightmarish events of our time. Dispatches is among the most blistering and compassionate accounts of war in our literature.

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