Literature and War Readalong December 28 2012: Dispatches by Michael Herr

Dispatches is a book I wanted to read  ever since it has been mentioned in the comments of other posts and after having read Tim O’Brien’s astonishing The Things They Carried. It’s the only book on the Vietnam war we are reading this year and I’m very keen on finding out how it will compare to O’Brien’s masterpiece.

Herr was a front-line reporter in the Vietnam war and has participated in the writing of movie scripts like Apocalypse Now and Platoon.

Here are the first sentences

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. That map was a marvel, especially now, that it wasn’t real anymore. For one thing it was very old. It had been left there years before by another tenant, probably a Fenchman, since the map had been made in Paris.


The discussion starts on Friday, 28 December 2012.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2012, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.

20 thoughts on “Literature and War Readalong December 28 2012: Dispatches by Michael Herr

  1. Though I have not read it, I believe that this book is considered a landmark. I have also heard that in some ways it resembles both Apocalypse Now and Platoon. I found both films to be extraordinary.

  2. This book looks fascinating, Caroline. Happy reading! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. I haven’t seen ‘Apocalypse Now’ but I have seen ‘Platoon’ and I liked it very much. Another Vietnam war movie that I loved is ‘The Deer Hunter’. Christopher Walken performance in that movie was so haunting.

    • The Deer Hunter is fantastic. You should watch Apocalyspe Now. Not the redux version though, it’s too long.
      I’m looking forward to this. I could imagine that a script writer writes evocative prose. But maybe I shouldn’t look forward too much… (I really did look forwad to The Weekend :))

      • Ha, ha, ha! Yeah, ‘The Weekend’ – I don’t know what Bernhard Schlink was thiking 🙂 I was thinking of reading all his books. Now I have put that plan in the backburner.

      • I will try to watch ‘Apocalypse Now’ soon. Thanks for recommending it. Coppola is an extremely talented filmmaker. I saw one of his recent movies called ‘Tetro’ and eventhough it didn’t do well in the box office, it was a beautiful work of art. I get goose bumps when I see a not-so-famous movie of an acclaimed director and discover that his / her artistic stamp is all over the movie – in the big things and in the little things.

  3. I’ve got a copy of this sitting on my desk at the library and will bring it home this weekend. I’m afraid I’m going to possibly by reading it and the Ledig side by side at the rate I am going. It was also recommended to me when I read the O’Brien (which remains one of my favorite books of all you’ve chosen from these last two years). I’m looking forward to it. Do you have your list ready for next year (out of curiosity…)?

  4. ah..the last book in December 🙂
    too bad I couldn’t join in this year.

    I never read Vietnam war books before…in fact the only war literature I ever read were of my country’s war and Japan. I am so left behind in war literature

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