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The Mountains Sing


Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award: A multi-generational tale set ...
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How much did you know about the historical events depicted before you read The Mountains Sing? Did the story show you a new side to any events you were already familiar with?

Created: 03/18/21

Replies: 28

Posted Mar. 18, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2619

How much did you know about the historical events depicted before you read The Mountains Sing? Did the story show you a new side to any events you were already familiar with?

There are many major historical events featured in the novel. How much did you know about these events before you read The Mountains Sing? Did the story show you a new side to any events you were already familiar with?


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ireneh

Join Date: 11/22/19

Posts: 29

RE: How much did you know about the ...

As an Army wife, I lived on a military base during much of the Viet Nam War. While I was (secretly) anti-war, I did not know much about the people of Viet Nam other than the caricatures which were presented to the American public to engender support for the war.
The Mountains Sing opened my eyes to the effects of the war on the civilian population of North Viet Nam including the suffering which they endured both before and after the American involvement in the war. The differences in beliefs, lifestyle, and impact of attacks on the people of the North were never something about which I thought. Rather, as is the case when one only sees a single side of an event, I saw the ordinary citizens of the war through the lens of the South and accepted the portrayal of Ho Chi Minh as an evil dictator whose people wanted to be free.
Reading the book was an emotional experience which opened my eyes to the human cost of the war, the courage and endurance of the people of Viet Nam, and the success of the American propaganda machine.
The author drew me into the lives of her characters and also made me ashamed that I had not searched further for the truth of the war which I opposed in my head, but didn't understand in my heart.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jazzming

Join Date: 03/19/21

Posts: 21

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I feel as though I have had only a brief history of these events, reading it from this perspective in this way was really powerful for me.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 504

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was born in 1961, so I was pretty young during the duration of the Vietnam War. I've read a lot of books about it, though, narrated from the perspectives of both the US soldiers and that of the local populations, so there were no real surprises for me.


Posted Mar. 19, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I have visited Vietnam 9 times with my husband who is a USMC veteran and served in Vietnam in the 60s. He hadn't told me much before our first trip but each time we revisit the country I learn new things about his time there and about Vietnam itself. Such a varied history of being overrun and facing long-running wars. Makes me sad.


Posted Mar. 20, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
catherynez

Join Date: 01/27/18

Posts: 64

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was born in 1971 so I was very young or not born yet during the Vietnam War. My dad and uncles were in the war but never talk about it. I wasn’t too familiar with the war and not familiar at all with the north Vietnamese people and the situations that they had to endure. It made me sad that they were so oppressed and had to live in such desperate conditions.


Posted Mar. 21, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PKH

Join Date: 01/29/21

Posts: 34

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I had very little knowledge of the events other than the war. It was very interesting to learn how much the Vietnamese people have suffered in addition to the war.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alycet

Join Date: 04/23/12

Posts: 160

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I knew vaguely of the French occupation and the communist. Of the culture and life style of the Vietnamese people I knew nothing. This book was an eye opener.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

Although we have traveled to Vietnam many times I still hadn't learned/understood the hisitory of war and occupation troops throughout VIetnam. I think many look at the Vietnam war as one of helping VN become a democratic nation when in fact they wanted to emerge from under the control of any other nation. This was to be done by combining the arbitrary north and south Vietnams.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Shahido

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 2

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I did not know much more than USA role in the war. I knew nothing about the history of occupation, starvation and war from N. Vietnam perspective.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
johnw

Join Date: 03/11/12

Posts: 77

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I grew up with the Vietnam War on the nightly news. As most Americans I saw Vietnam through the eyes of the U.S. media that focused its reporting from the viewpoint of the American military or anti-war protesters never from the viewpoint of the people of Vietnam (north or south).

The Mountains Sing brought a new perspective on the war on the civilian population and as with all wars the human cost usually never told.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melissa c.

Join Date: 01/10/21

Posts: 47

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I knew very little about the events depicted in this book, other than the "war" in general terms. I was born in 1963 and no family members were involved in the Viet Nam war - most of my family members were girls/young women. I don't remember much discussion in school either, which now seems very strange.

This book provided an interesting, human perspective of not only the war but of the country and how people of different ages, class and caste were all impacted by its events. This book opened my eyes and now piqued my interest in reading more about Viet Nam.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynu

Join Date: 03/22/21

Posts: 9

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I knew I was not in favor of our being in Vietnam because of the many lives lost in both countries. I knew there are no happy endings when one went off to war. What I didn’t stop to think about, at that time, were the after affects of families torn apart because it wasn’t directly happening to me. I was young.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

There are many interesting books about Vietnam. Fiction and non-fiction. Some make cringe and others make me smile.


Posted Mar. 22, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

Not many in the USA knew the tragedies occurring on all sides during this war. I don’t think many do yet.


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorisk

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 26

RE: How much did you know about the ...

This book shows the plight of the people of north Vietnam in a way I had never thought of them. War causes great tragedy to the innocent people who want to live a peaceful life. The book also showed many fascinating aspects of Vietnamese culture and importance of family. We in the US only heard one side of this terrible war. Maybe the protesters had valid reasons for their behavior.


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynne z

Join Date: 01/06/18

Posts: 21

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was in my 20s during the war and was an active protestor. Many friends and relatives were drafted during that time, and it was frightening to think they might not return. I felt torn between my feelings about the war and my feelings for the soldiers that were on the front lines. I only had access to information from the perspective of the United States and South Vietnam. It wasn't until I watched the Ken Burns ten-part documentary about Vietnam that I was able to look at the conflict from both the North and the South. The Mountains Sing reinforced this ability to see the many sides of war through the eyes of the people who lived through its horrors. What a great book!


Posted Mar. 23, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

The ability to learn of the many sides of the war through the eyes of the people who lived through its horrors is possibly the best thing overall about this book.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annw

Join Date: 04/25/14

Posts: 6

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was very active in the anti-war movement in 1960 and 70. This book allowed me to revisit and amplify my impressions and memories. I have helped many refuges obtain asylum and ultimately US citizenship. Telling it from the feminine pov was very very helpful as woman and children are so often left out of the story. Also, very good discussion of a vietcong. All still resonates in the country today as it slowly rebuilds itself. I would recommend Spike Lee's film about this time. It is excellent.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annw

Join Date: 04/25/14

Posts: 6

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was very active in anti-war movement. I read Hell in a very small place and many books about Indochina during and after ww2. Many films were made and not just from US viewpoint. Indochin, a French film was excellent.


Posted Mar. 24, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 123

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I did know a great deal about the war and its aftermath, being a college student at the time. I did, however, find The Mountains Sing a look from the other side of the coin. We so often view events from our own lenses and forget there is another side. The book is valuable in making us see both sides and the aftermath of war.


Posted Mar. 26, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
patty claire

Join Date: 04/05/19

Posts: 32

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I was a college student and young adult during the Vietnam War but what I was aware of most was the conflict at home and then the war's death toll on our soldiers and the Vietnamese population. It is significant that we can hear a different point of view and how this war affected not only the troops but the civilian population. The participants start from an Idealistic desire but it is the entire population that suffers.
I also was deeply affected when I read The Matterhorn.


Posted Mar. 27, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Windsong

Join Date: 05/07/13

Posts: 81

RE: How much did you know about the ...

My history of Vietnam began in 1963 when a college history professor mentioned that advisors had been sent to that country. He was quite agitated by that news and the possible consequences, so after class I went to the library and unscrolled a huge hanging wall map to find its location. It seemed so small and insignificant compared to the size of there countries who had engaged in in recent wars. It became a large part of my life for the decades to follow. I knew how many times Korea had been invaded by Japan, China, the Communists, and the United States; however I knew nothing about Vietnam's invaders. I only viewed Vietnam from the point of view that the US newspapers and television at that time presented. The Mountains Sing gave me a whole different perspective of the war and the North Vietnamese people who endured the bombings. I remember the shock waves that Mohammed Ali, the boxer sent through everyone when he said, "I have no problem with the North Vietnamese, and I am not going to war against them."(That might be paraphrased) Living through those times as a teenager, college student and young teacher in that period was difficult.


Posted Mar. 29, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosienick

Join Date: 03/20/16

Posts: 25

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I found it very interesting to discover how the Americans were characterized in this book. I just never thought about this from the view of the North Vietnamese. Even for those who were passionately against our involvement in the Vietnam war, we Americans were led to believe that we truly needed to support South Vietnam militarily.


Posted Mar. 29, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ColoradoGirl

Join Date: 05/16/16

Posts: 103

RE: How much did you know about the ...

Like catherynez, I was born in 1971 and learned about the war in school. This book opened my eyes to what the people went through. I feel like I need to read more books about this part of the world to continue my learning!


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shelleys

Join Date: 06/19/19

Posts: 7

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I knew a great deal about the war(which is different from knowing a great deal about Vietnam or its people). I was very active in the anti-war movement as a High School and College student. I studied political science and moved to Washington D.C to pursue my anti-war activities. I knew classmates who were drafted, wounded, died and even a few who enlisted. Every day the NYT would publish the names of the dead american soldiers and i would both weep and be moved to anger by the waste. In retrospect i knew that the people in the north and the south suffered greatly, and knew about the horror of Agent Orange and Napalm. But there was always a lens through which we could gather facts- we only could know what the press and the government wanted us to know- which was almost exclusively through the perspective of the American forces. The people were dehumanized and referred to by racist slurs. We were shown a mass of people who were farmers by day and Viet Cong by night- all in identical black "pajamas" indistinguishable from one another. This book told the story through women's perspective and from a family in the North. It underscored the deprivation and brutality and the universality of suffering in wartime. It definitely made me revisit my feelings and experiences from that time


Posted Apr. 05, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

And for some ( many) reasons we seem to ignore the universality of suffering in wartime.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
debra

Join Date: 09/02/20

Posts: 23

RE: How much did you know about the ...

I have actually been to Vietnam and Cambodia. I was pleasantly surprised that this simple narration could give me so much more knowledge.


Posted Apr. 11, 2021 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 52

RE: How much did you know about the ...

Yes; I've been to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos and enjoyed the book. I wonder why you read it as a ‘simple narration’.....


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