BLACK VIRGIN MOUNTAIN: A Return to Vietnam

Larry Heinemann, Author . Doubleday $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-51221-3

This may be the only book written by an American veteran that harshly condemns Gen. William Westmoreland and sings the praises of Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap. Heinemann's autobiographical Close Quarters (1977) is one of the most underappreciated in-country Vietnam War novels; Paco's Story (1987), a biting tale of the war's brutal emotional aftermath, won the National Book Award for fiction. Part memoir, part travelogue, part personal political treatise, Heinemann's first nonfiction effort is also a winner. His evocative look at his eventful 1967–1968 tour with a 25th Infantry Division mechanized infantry battalion contains a bitterly strong indictment of the politicians and generals who waged the war, and tracks his transformation from a nonpolitical son of the working class into a disillusioned young soldier who became virulently politicized. That narrative is framed by a trip Heinemann took to Vietnam in 1992 with fellow American Vietnam veteran writers as guests of the Vietnam Writers Association. What he found on that and subsequent visits jibes with nearly all of the other "going back" books by American veterans: a warm welcome from a nation at peace. The book's title refers to an epiphanic climb in 1992 to the top of Black Virgin (Nui Ba Den) Mountain—a talisman of sorts to many Americans who served in Tay Ninh Province during the war: "I'm home, I say to myself; I have arrived home; this place is home." (Apr. 19)

Reviewed on: 01/24/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56511-951-2
Ebook - 139 pages - 978-0-385-51578-8
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-1-4000-7689-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-56511-952-9
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