BookBrowse Reviews The Father of All Things by Tom Bissell

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The Father of All Things

A Marine, His Son, and the Legacy of Vietnam

By Tom Bissell

The Father of All Things
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2007,
    432 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2008,
    432 pages.

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A fascinating work about the American character and about war itself. A moving book about fathers, sons, and the universal desire to understand our parents

This is Bissell's third book following Chasing The Sea, a travelogue through Central Asia recording his disastrous time with the Peace Corp; and a collection of short stories, God Lives in St Petersburg. Having read his earlier books, one might conclude that Bissell has been building himself up to tackle this very big, very personal topic, but actually it seems that the topic caught up with him, triggered by an assignment for GQ magazine that took him and his father to Vietnam to relive his father's wartime experiences - an article now much expanded into book form.

Speaking of the post-war generation, of which he is a part, Bissell writes, "[t]his strange, lost war, simultaneously real and unimaginable, forced us to ...

Suggested Reading.
The bibliography for The Father of All Things runs to 14 pages but, conveniently, in 2006 Bissell wrote an article for Salon.com in which he details his recommended reading list about Vietnam, summarized below:

  • Michael Herr's 1977 memoir Dispatches: "A nearly perfect synthesis of war reportage and lysergic impressionism."
  • Neil L. Jamieson's Understanding Vietnam: "The rare book that seemingly everyone who cares about Vietnam recommends without reservation."
  • Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie: "The best book to read about the American side of the Vietnam War."
  • Bao Ninh's The Sorrow of War: "A dreamlike and terrifying novel about a North Vietnamese soldier, ...

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