Titled "The Great Vietnam War Novel Was Not Written by an American," Nguyen includes some powerful insight -- or rather America's lack of insight -- into our ever continuing wars of aggression against an ever growing number of civilians.
"Only a small cadre of Americans believed that it was necessary and urgent to learn more about Vietnamese voices and experiences, without which a more complete American understanding of the Vietnam War would never happen. American ignorance of Vietnamese history, culture and politics helped draw the United States into a war and a country that it did not comprehend. This pattern of ignorance arguably continues today, both in terms of what Americans continue to ignore about Vietnam and what Americans refuse to know about the Middle East. Literature plays an important role as a corrective to this ignorance."
The essay also provides a list of books that should keep us busy for a long time.
I'm embarrassed to say that I have not read, let alone am I familiar with, most of these books. But I would recommend "The Sorrow of War" by Bao Ninh and anything by Duong Thu Huong. Both were soldiers fighting for North Vietnam. Ms. Huong's perspective of a woman in war -- and what war does to families -- is particularly necessary.
Here's to a better understanding of our war against the Vietnamese, and perhaps a more peaceful future.