For the Sake of All Living Things

John M. del Vecchio, Author Bantam Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-05742-3
Turning his sweeping gaze west of the Vietnam setting of The 13th Valley , Del Vecchio brilliantly portrays the labyrinthine tragedies that led to the 1970s cataclysm in Cambodia. The theme of retribution is established when young Samnang witnesses his sister's murder by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA). Conscripted by communist Cambodians (KK) and vowing revenge, Samnang learns the horrible lessons taught in the cadre's ``school of the cruel.'' His father, farmer Chhuon, told that both children are dead, vows ``blood for blood,'' an anomalous stand for a Buddhist. Chhuon's surviving daughter, spirited Vathana, leaves the village to run a business, which is ruined in the wake of U.S. bombings and South Vietnamese, NVA and royalist warfare; she becomes an ``angel'' in a refugee hospital. Raised to authority in the KK, Samnang--now called Met (for ``comrade'') Nang--is ordered to help ``erase all memory'' of Cambodian culture, an attempt to build a nation free of ``foreign impurities'' that also sets the stage for the Cambodian holocaust. Seeing the horrors around him, Chhuon reverses his vow and reclaims Buddhist values for ``the sake of all living things.'' While interspersed reports filed by Special Forces Cpt. John Sullivan, Vathana's lover, put events in political perspective, this exhaustive, emotionally powerful novel ends on a note of desperate irony that sums up the Kafkaesque absurdity of Cambodia's torment. 50,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-553-28842-1
Paperback - 752 pages - 978-0-9853388-8-6
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