Book Review “Dear America Letters home from Vietnam”

BookReview: “DearAmerica: Letters home from Vietnam”

Thebook is an anthology of selected letters that were written by theparticipants of the Vietnam War. These letters were specificallywritten to people at home by the participants of the war. Thecollection of the letters describes the experiences that they passedthrough and the way they viewed the challenges they felt. Through theanthology, the reader is able to get a firsthand account of theexperiences of the people who participated in the war for America inVietnam (Edelman 2). In addition, the letters provide a basis offorming an opinion of the experience of the Americans in Vietnam. Thediscussion below about the book will give a concrete review of theanthology and the experiences learnt from the account of the writers.

Thebook features the letters from the soldiers who were fighting inVietnam to their families and friends. The compilation was done byBernard Edelman, who served as a correspondent and a broadcastspecialist in Vietnam. The collection was done as a way of creatingmemories for the people who participated in the war. Through theadoption of the real letters by soldiers creates a sense oforiginality to the reader and forces the audience to imagine theexperiences that they underwent in the war.

Thesense of experience is achieved by the letters as they give accountof experiences to both the reader and their families and friends.Therefore, the anthology creates a sense of the experience of the warin the mind of the reader. This is because the reader becomes aninterceptor of the message that was truly passed by the soldiers. Asan interceptor of the message, the audience is passive in the bookand the act like firsthand observers of the message. The bookprovides a piece of literature from the first hand narration createsa sense of experience in the situations of the writer. This makes thereader a passive participant in the conversation made by the soldiersto their families and friends.

Thebook successfully achieves its intention of creating the sense of theexperience of the war among the audience. This is because the readeris placed as the direct recipient of the letters. By reading theletters sent by the soldiers during the war, the reader impersonatesthe family member or the friend who received the letter in real time.This makes the message a direct piece of information for the audienceto ponder on. In this anthology, the compiler provides the lettersnot only as the contents of the book but also as the artifacts. Theuse of the real letters in the book helps the reads to understand thereal situation of the past time and experience.

Thecollection makes the audience to take a time machine to the time whenthe Vietnam War was fought. The reader is able to relate to theissues discussed in the letters today, as if he or she is livingduring the war. The use of firsthand information in literatureprovides the audience with the perspective of the writer which isachieved by the disassociation of the fictions about the Vietnamcontext and embracing the soldiers’ firsthand experience. Thecontext of the letters still remains the Vietnam War and Americaduring that time. The context is constant because the letters areable to force the reader to take the context of the letters, and notjust the current time and context. In this way, the collection issuccessful in the presentation of the experiences of the soldiers.

Inaddition, the anthology creates a life out of the soldiers whoparticipated in the war by presenting their views at the time areader reads. Because the anthology contains true letters andreflects real events, the letters make the soldier an immortal being.The letters make the life of the soldiers longer that it was,especially for those who died in the war. The letters communicate theexperiences that not only inform the reader, but also create a senseof interaction between the audience and the soldiers. Through theperceived interaction, the anthology creates a life out of the paston heroes of the Vietnam War.

Theemotional impact of the anthology is a strong result of thecollection. Reading the letters creates the emotional feeling thatthe original receivers of the letters had. In addition, the letterscommunicate the personal and individual accounts that the soldiershad before narrating them to their loved ones back at home. This isbecause of the context of war and the description of the experiencesthat the soldiers had in the foreign land. One of the emotions thatis reflected in the letters is that of homesickness and love forhome. The soldiers indicate how they hope that their stay in Vietnamwould end and find them back home. Therefore, reading the lettersgives the reader the emotions of missing home and the love for acountry or appreciating home.

Theanthology provides an account of history by giving the details of thepeople who fought in the Vietnam War. The letters talk about the realexperiences of the soldiers and the real events that took place inthe Vietnam War (Edelman 2). At the same time, the anthology providesthe human perspective of the historic war that America engaged in.Therefore, the reader learns history from the perspective of thehuman interactions between the soldiers and their friends and familyback home.

Theletters do not just communicate to the original recipients, but alsoto the citizens of America. They communicate the loyalty that thesoldiers had to the country and also to their loved ones. The lettersdescribe loyalty and sacrifice for the country as the reason why theyare fighting in Vietnam (Edelman 14). The sacrifice towards thecountry is a theme that presents itself from the letters of thesoldiers. As a result, the reader gets a firsthand lesson from thesoldiers about the extent of sacrifice that the soldiers made for thecountry.


Theanthology is a collection of real letters that were written by thesoldiers in the Vietnam War to their friends and family members backhome. The collection of letters presents the experiences in the warand the emotional state of the soldiers as they fought in a foreignland. By featuring the letters, the collection communicates historyand the sacrifices that the soldiers made for the country therebypresenting lessons for the people today. Moreover, the reader takes apassive position by experiencing the context of Vietnam as well asthe events of the historic war.


Edelman,Bernard. DearAmerica: Letters Home From Vietnam.New York: Norton, 2002, Print