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There are currently 5 reader reviews for Tree of Smoke
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Serious editing needed...
Much of the writing in this book is extraordinary, and it really conveys the insanity of war. Nevertheless, I found myself tiring of the the endless drunken, pointless conversations and repetitive scenes of perverse violence and sexuality. The book would have been more powerful had it been edited to half its length.
Too much imagination?
First, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it rests now in the Vietnam section of my library (the insanity of the whole Vietnam thing fascinates me). My comments are that it would have been a much better book had the excesses of imagination had the benefit of a kind but firm editor. Within this were at least two other, good, separate books.
Some of the wildness of American behaviour there comes through, and makes one very worried about those present day forces now spread over 750+ bases around the world (Tomgram yesterday) and whether they too lack the self-control that this book displays.
Stick at it, there are many things to enjoy.
Since buying this I obtained others, and they are very much the same, a vivid imagination run amok.
First things first, I read the book and it is a good read and it kept me interested. It drifts along with characters entering the story that never interact with the main characters at all (or anyone else really). I kept waiting for there to be a point, but there never really was. If you are considering this book to understand the U.S. in Vietnam, or about the Army or anything don't bother. It would be like watching Popeye to learn about life in the Navy. Almost all of the scenes with military personnel involve being at dinner and drinking too much, or going to whore houses. There is no doubt that Vietnam era military people did some of these activities, but if you read this book you would think that nothing else happened. But if you like to read about confused people drifting through a major period of history then by all means read this book.
Smoke and fire
I have read quite a bit of Vietnam fiction and non fiction, but I've never read anything that seems to capture the tortured soul of that conflict as sharply — and beautifully — as this book. It is a page-turner but still complex, and the characters seem far more real to me than any I have encountered recently in fiction. I am grateful to the author for having the guts to write "another book about Vietnam" and for powerfully but subtly drawing parallels to our current quagmire, especially in the manipulation and misuse of "intelligence."
I could not put this book down!
This book has just wrapped me into it and I can't stop reading. I was in high school in the 60's with friends going away to this war; many came back not the same. This book gives real insight into the lives of those involved in the war. I found myself riding the emotional waves, enraptured, not wanting the story to end but also not wanting to go where I knew it was going.