SUCH A LOVELY LITTLE WAR

SAIGON 1961-63

A first-rate work of graphic memoir dealing with a pivotal period in modern American history.

The early years of the Vietnam War through the eyes of a child, as rendered by the graphic artist he became.

Truong shows his command of both text and visuals, as his boyhood provides a compelling perspective on the beginnings of a war that would have such devastating impacts on Southeast Asia and America alike. The young son of a Vietnamese diplomat and the Frenchwoman that he married, “Marco” initially enjoyed an idyllic life outside Washington, D.C.: “America the Beautiful, like a Peanuts cartoon,” he remembers, though the other kids could never get his Asian ethnicity right; they thought he was Chinese or maybe Korean, having never heard of Vietnam. In boyhood games of cowboys or soldiers, he was always the “other.” As the war escalated, he found his life disrupted, and his father was reassigned to their homeland. Readers follow young Marco through a visit to his mother’s relatives in France to their Saigon return. The turmoil he experienced there paralleled the “quiet war” between his parents and the deeper disturbances that plagued his mother, who had resisted their departure from the States and found her worst fears confirmed. “In Mama’s case,” he writes, isolation and war set off this terrible mental disorder”—which the author now recognizes as a bipolar condition that was never properly diagnosed and treated. Much of the American involvement and escalation in Vietnam will be familiar to readers, though Truong seems to have no ideological ax to grind, letting the horrors of Agent Orange (“Even today…deformed children are being born because of this poison”) and the inability of American forces to compete with the Vietcong “to win the hearts and minds of the population” speak for themselves. The value is in the eyewitness accounts by a young boy who would understand more when he was older and develop the artistry necessary to render what he now understands.

A first-rate work of graphic memoir dealing with a pivotal period in modern American history.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55152-647-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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