Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tales from a Mountain City: A Vietnam War Memoir by Quynh Dao

Tales from a Mountain City: A Vietnam War Memoir2 1/2 Stars
You have to loooooove history to get into this book. I do. Or at least I thought I did but maybe I don't so much.

When I read a memoir I expect history; I need history to understand the background of someones story. Ideally, I would like 80% personal story and 20% history, (the 20% expertly woven into the memoir in such a way that I dont even realize I'm getting a history lesson).

This book is the opposite. 80% history and 20% personal story. Preeeeeetty dry at times. I will admit that by the time I was 50% through the book I started to skim. I just wanted to 'get to the story'.

See, its like this: when someone has limited knowledge of a subject (as I do when it comes to Vietnam) and they are then force fed every detail of every aspect of ancient and modern history, each dynasty, each king, and then every revolt thrown in for good measure, their brain (my brain) starts spinning. It cant help it.

And while my brain is busy making me carsick I round a bend and lo and behold! more background; this time the author's personal familial history (and to be fair, that is, after all, why we are reading this book)....ah! But where to start? How about....yes! I think this should suffice! 400 years ago...
Don't get me wrong; its all interesting stuff. Seriously. But its..just. too. much.

BOTTOM LINE: If you love history more than life itself give this a go.
If you don't, but enjoy a good historical memoir written about this time period but in Cambodia, I suggest you try "Mother and the Tiger " instead.


Many thanks to NetGalley for giving me a digital copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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