Read The Alphabet of Vietnam by Jonathan Chamberlain Online


There is a darkness in men's hearts that war sets free. When their war is over, they bring that darkness back home with them. It's a short trail from the jungles of Vietnam to the forests of the Appalachian Mountains. A complex tale involves a journey back to Vietnam and into the dark past: a past where Clausewitz, the philosopher of war, meets de Sade, the philosopher ofThere is a darkness in men's hearts that war sets free. When their war is over, they bring that darkness back home with them. It's a short trail from the jungles of Vietnam to the forests of the Appalachian Mountains. A complex tale involves a journey back to Vietnam and into the dark past: a past where Clausewitz, the philosopher of war, meets de Sade, the philosopher of man's own individual evil....

Title : The Alphabet of Vietnam
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9789881900289
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 291 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Alphabet of Vietnam Reviews

  • Dolors
    2019-05-18 03:32

    The story of two brothers, Jack and Joe. Jack is an ordinary teacher with an ordinary life, whereas Joe is a perturbed ex-soldier who went wild in Vietnam and who became a vicious man with a tormented soul until he couldn't take it anymore and committed suicide.In a last attempt to save his sense of honour, Joe writes to his brother, telling him about a girl who is kept in a cabin in the middle of nowhere by his war buddy, Wash, a cold blooded murderer. He asks Jack to go and rescue her, enclosing a diary of his days in Vietnam and his thoughts once he came back home, so that Jack can understand the way Joe's mind worked, the way his brother became a monster, and somehow, atone for his sins.Jack has also a chance to overcome his own fears and try to find what's missing in his dull life.I can't say I enjoyed this novel. Gratuitous violence, never ending descriptions of rapes and murders of all kind: men, women, little babies; the further you read, the grosser the accounts of the killings became, until I wasn't affected anymore, only disgusted by them.I understand what Chamberlain tries to do with this story, he exposes unjustifiable acts as objectively as possible, leaving the reader to decide if it's men's nature or the way society uses them which makes them kill unabashedly and without remorse. War, justice and morality become entangled along with Vietnamese philosophy in this strange thriller. But I don't like the way he does it, I don't know why it didn't work for me. I couldn't have cared less about the characters, and I think there wasn't any need to detail the grotesque and morbid sexual scenes or the rapes and endless tortures the way the author did. For what end? To shock? To impress? To make the point? I think there are infinite much more elegant and subtle ways to do that, you only need to read any of Mr. Hosseini's novels to understand what I mean.Sorry, but I won't be reading anything else by this author.

  • Steve Woods
    2019-04-26 08:43

    This is a book about the darkness in all of us and how a war taps the roots of violence and power in some people in such a way that they are drawn ever more deeply into the abyss. I am familiar with this space, I have skirted its edges and felt its pull in my own life; I have seen some who could not escape its attractions for it is as addictive as the most powerful of drugs. I have nearly lost my own struggle several times over the decades and returned to the silken embrace of its dark hands.The two veterans Joe and Wash are not typical in having become so extreme that the reduction of human life, that of the outsider, to a mere consequence that is so often the result of combat becomes the central value in life. They do as many did move into the isolation of a wilderness, that is where they feel safe and comfortable Away from others for whom they have little use.In that alienation they regard women as simply things to be used and disposed of and they go about doing just that. It is not just a sexual nor a pragmatic use but a statement of their power and their resentment about what happened to their insides as a result of what their country, their government and their people demanded of them. They are simply returning the favour according to their own logic. Their descent into the bestial is a logical consequence of war and the abandonment of principle and ethics a corollary of the process. The argument is that a society cannot split hairs. Condoning violence of any kind in the service of its own agendas without accepting that those they call to that service may exercise their individual right to violence in service of their own interest in exactly the same way. To see it otherwise is just pure hypocrisy!That any veteran ever returns with their own sense of identity intact is a miracle. For those who do not society owes them whatever it takes to put something serviceable together. Shirking that duty is just acceptance of their right to respond to that society in exactly the way we have trained and exhirted them to treat those we designate as the enemy!

  • Chris Thrall
    2019-05-06 02:48

    Having read two of Jonathan Chamberlain's memoirs - 'King Hui' about a Hong Kong playboy and 'Wordjazz for Stevie', a touching tribute to Jonathan's late daughter who was born profoundly handicapped - I was really looking forward to reading 'The Alphabet of Vietnam' and seeing how Jonathan turns his hand to fiction. I was more than impressed. It is an exceptional piece of writing, well researched, one that explores the light and dark in every 'man's' soul in a refreshingly unapologetic manner.The story unfolds through a series of skillfully interwoven narratives: Two psychotic - or perhaps completely sane - Vietnam veterans who bring their sick war games home with them. A brother who comes to question all he believes in an attempt to do what is right. A return to modern-day Vietnam that explores US war crimes and the country's rich history and culture through a series of cleverly though out vignettes.'And then there is love - and love is complicated ...'What a great book!Chris Thrall is the author of 'Eating Smoke: One Man's descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland' - a true story.

  • Hue
    2019-05-12 03:57

    I could not put down this book! The author uses a good combination of long and short sentences, creating a staccato-legato rhythm. The story is riveting. Anyone who is interested in Vietnam, American veterans of the Vietnam war, and good old fashioned fiction will find this novel very appealing. The author, Jonathan Chamberlain, is an astute observer and highly crafted literary artist. Very exciting book! While critics have compared Mr. Jonathan Chamberlain to Graham Greene, I would add my own comparison of "The Alphabet of Vietnam" to that of "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. Definitely up there with the best! Well done, Mr. Chamberlain! Add this to your upcoming summer, fall, or winter reading!

  • Mark
    2019-04-26 02:59

    This will one day be considered one of the definitive books on Vietnam, and indeed on the consequences of war. When men come back from war they bring the war back with them. Also contains original translations of a feminist, and often erotic, Vietnamese poet (Ho Xuan Hu'ong) who lived 200 years ago. One reviewer said of it: "extraordinary page turner, intricately's up there with the best."

  • Nancy
    2019-05-11 06:38

    In this oddly thought out book, Jonathan Chamberlain tells us many stories. There are brothers Joe and Jack; Joe’s friend Wash; several women who die sadly; a Vietnamese poetess named Ho Xoan Houng who wrote beautiful poems for us; Maddie, Benjy and Alice.Joe dies purposefully. He did it himself. Dove under a train. It usually works well and did this time, too. Jack is delivered a set of notes that completely changes his hum-drum existence. “Go find Maddie and my baby and get them away from Wash before they die.” Pretty straight forward.Well, Jack found Wash, Maddie and barely more than a zygote Benjy in the hills of the Eastern Mountains. Maddie was a slave to Wash and to Joe. She wanted to escape and it was up to Jack to make that happen. However – it didn’t quite work that way. Jack wants to learn what Vietnam did to his brother but doesn’t particularly want to know what Joe did in Vietnam. He learns anyhow. He travels there – sees what Joe saw and thinks on that. He drank bad beer, crawled in caves and learned lessons of poverty and pain. He learned what Joe forgot. There are people I know who absolutely should not read this book. The people we loved and saw return home changed are among them. Then there are us – the ones who stayed. We need to read this book. We may not want to, but we need to.

  • Les Gehman
    2019-05-08 02:30

    The Alphabet of Vietnam by Jonathan Chamberlain is a difficult book for me to review. It definitely stirred mixed feelings in me. It is by turns philosophical and brutally violent. The tale is complex and is presented in a series of "snapshots" that sometimes make it difficult to piece together the time frame, but all-in-all it is a very interesting story and well worth reading.

  • Ray
    2019-04-25 07:59

    Vietnamese poetry, and the interesting literary techniques utilizing there of.Repetitive. Disturbing. Unnecessarily disturbing? Hard to follow. Jarring. Get it, get that the Vietnam War was a nightmare that reverberates. An American in Vietnam cannot ignore that. Some powerful writing on the subject.But somehow misses the mark at times, to be honest. The modern plot, the journals with their constant and extreme violence. What does it all mean, what does it all add? Again and again. Worth a read. Worth giving some thought.If haunting is the overall point, suppose it works...

  • Orsolya Zarug
    2019-04-21 00:46

    Extremely disturbing but can't stop reading it!