A superb collection by American and Vietnamese veterans of the Vietnam Warwhat they called the American War: 39 stories that deal with survivalwartime and every day thereafter, when one must survive not merely bullets and mines, but depression, alcoholism, failed marriages, and continual fear. Karlin, a novelist (Us, 1993, etc.) and coeditor of a 1973 collection of fiction by Vietnam veterans, Free Fire Zone, writes that ``the best way to read the anthology is straight through, as you would a novel.'' As such, the narrative alternates between the American point of view, in reprinted pieces by Thom Jones, Tim O'Brien, and others, and the Vietnamese side, in stories by well-known Vietnamese authors, many of whom appear for the first time in English translation. In the end, both sides of the tragedy are admirably conveyed. ``There was a time we would have killed each other,'' writes George Evans in a prose poem woven throughout the volume. Now, writing together, former enemies begin to heal old wounds.