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Into a Black Sun: Vietnam, 1964-1965

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This novel is set within the Vietnam War.


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This novel is set within the Vietnam War.

30 review for Into a Black Sun: Vietnam, 1964-1965

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daren

    This is a well regarded novel about the Vietnam War, set in and around Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It tells the story of a Japanese war correspondent, as he explores various aspects of life - both with the Americans in their camp with the South Vietnamese troops and in the backstreets of the city. All the more interesting, because most accounts of the war that we can read are either American or Vietnamese - in this case Kaiko tries to work both sides of a viewpoint. As the author spent time as a c This is a well regarded novel about the Vietnam War, set in and around Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). It tells the story of a Japanese war correspondent, as he explores various aspects of life - both with the Americans in their camp with the South Vietnamese troops and in the backstreets of the city. All the more interesting, because most accounts of the war that we can read are either American or Vietnamese - in this case Kaiko tries to work both sides of a viewpoint. As the author spent time as a correspondent in Saigon, there is more than a suggestion that many aspects of this novel are autobiographical, and this clearly adds a dimension to the writing. Initially the novel comes across as having limited plot - it follows the daily routine of the main character, his interactions with other Japanese reporters, with his Vietnamese girlfriend and her brother, with other somewhat random people he encounters. But the imagery and writing are very good - shout out to the translator of course - and the explorations of Saigon are worth the limited plot. The reader can't help but think this all leads up the the last few chapters. The third to last is a chapter which could almost be a stand alone essay of the effects of losing WWII on the Japanese psyche. The second to last traces the correspondent packing up his time in Saigon, in preparation for his returning to the jungle; and in the last chapter, he accompanies the Americans on a mission into the Viet Cong held zone. Not my normal genre, but a relatively quick, enjoyable read. 4 ****

  2. 5 out of 5

    AC

    This is an absolutely terrific book! Cast in Vietnam, c. 1964, it views the war through the eyes of a cultured, highly intelligent and existential Japanese war correspondent (Kaiko), has vivid descriptions of jungle combat, and of the sordid side of Saigon 'noir' -- a serious and wrenching book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    Saigon. Shit. For most of "Into a Black Sun", he's still only in Saigon. Everyone gets everything he wants. Our friendly Japanese journalist wanted to join a mission. And for his sins, they invited him. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, he'd never want another.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Douglas Rowland

    After reading Kaikō's earlier works "Panic" and "The Runaway" a few years ago, I was in no hurry to read anything else by him. Very dull stuff. It's remarkable that "Into a Black Sun" is written by the same man. This tale of a Japanese journalist in war-torn Vietnam during 1964 and 1965 is so evocative, elegant and expressive that it turned out to be one of the greatest works of Japanese literature I've ever read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A stunning book so beautifully written it was almost painful. Based on the author's experiences as a Japanese war correspondent in Vietnam, this memoir offers a unique perspective - neither American nor Vietnamese - of the war and its savage futility, and a very raw and unflinching account of the seedy Saigon underbelly he lives in when he's not embedded with troops. The final three chapters make up one of the best, most lyrical denouements of any book I've read. A one-two-three punch to the gut A stunning book so beautifully written it was almost painful. Based on the author's experiences as a Japanese war correspondent in Vietnam, this memoir offers a unique perspective - neither American nor Vietnamese - of the war and its savage futility, and a very raw and unflinching account of the seedy Saigon underbelly he lives in when he's not embedded with troops. The final three chapters make up one of the best, most lyrical denouements of any book I've read. A one-two-three punch to the gut. Note: there are some very explicit sex scenes, and the only female character (aside from the madam from whom the narrator buys her services) is a prostitute who has no agency, defining characteristics, or discernible motivations. This is a man's world, but I get that that's kind of what you sign up for when you read a war chronicle. But it was definitely this underwritten portrayal (if we can call it that - she exists to serve the narrator) of the woman, To'nga, that strengthened the Hemingway vibes I got while reading this book (Kaiko's spare writing and obsession with masculinity and war also felt Hemingway-esque, although the author himself might argue more in favour of a Twain influence, whose "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" gets a surprising analysis here). A (male, for what it's worth) co-worker who is Japanese recommended this book to me, calling it a modern classic in Japan. I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would to be honest, and am compelled to learn more about the Vietnam War now - always, for me, a sign of a good book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    Brilliant, often meandering prose, with some startling imagery and a memorable, brutal finale. The narrator was endlessly fascinating, and the seedy underbelly of Vietnam was beautifully realised throughout the novel; from its descriptions of an alleyway smelling 'like an unwashed crotch', to the account of one man's visit to a 'licking-house', this was a breathtaking experience. Highly recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    Algo que en verdad hay que agradecer de este libro es que nos da una visión de la guerra de Vietnam alejada del tufo a Hollywood. No sé si es por la traducción pero por momentos se lee como inconexo una línea de la siguiente. Por momentos la lectura se vuelve pesada, lento y no sabemos hacía a donde apunta. Hacía el final es vertiginoso.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jose Monsalve

    Tenía grandes expectativas con este libro. Fue difícil y costoso conseguirlo. Sin duda es una obra interesante pero no resultó, para mí, cautivadora. Hay pasajes muy emotivos y se percibe la cultura de Vietnam, así como el pavoroso monstruo de la guerra, sin embargo, la estructura de la historia no me resultó muy cómoda.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Curtis Bozif

    A sometimes wordy novel about a Japanese journalist covering the Vietnam War. In interesting look at everyday life in South Vietnam during the early stages of the war and a sensitive portrait of Saigon. Beautiful descriptions of tastes and textures and smells throughout. Unfortunately, the most interesting aspects of this book, and ultimately its most powerful moments, occur at its end; the last three chapters are absolutely stunning. In chapter fifteen, Kaiko grapples with the traumas suffered A sometimes wordy novel about a Japanese journalist covering the Vietnam War. In interesting look at everyday life in South Vietnam during the early stages of the war and a sensitive portrait of Saigon. Beautiful descriptions of tastes and textures and smells throughout. Unfortunately, the most interesting aspects of this book, and ultimately its most powerful moments, occur at its end; the last three chapters are absolutely stunning. In chapter fifteen, Kaiko grapples with the traumas suffered by the Japanese people in the wake of their defeat that put an end to WWII. In chapter sixteen Kaiko's main character says goodbye to the complacency of Saigon, and in chapter seventeen, Into a Black Sun reaches its final climax as Kaiko takes us back to the jungle to confront an invisible enemy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    There's a particular character to every Japanese war novel I've ever read. A bit like Heller's flair for the slightly absurd. The characters in this novel take a lax attitude toward the conflict they are in, the affairs of the world and reflect on life outside. This book was a little unique in that it pulls together more of the world itself, where so many Japanese novels of the type remain locked on one or a few characters' psychology.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dave/Maggie Bean

    Kaiko is one of the luminaries of postwar Japanese literature, and this novel -- perhaps predictably -- has an ebon radiance of its own. A fictionalized account of Kaiko's experiences as war correspondent in Vietnam, this Kodansha offering lives up to said company's repuation for superb translations. Editor Ceclia Sagawa's mastery of Japanese and English serves this work as well as did J.C.F. Wu's when he tackled the Tao Teh Ching.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eric Ling

    This book is a very descriptive account of Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam during the times of the Vietnam War. Most of the book describes city life during the Vietnam War and a few chapters at the beginning and end of the book detail the actual war. The living conditions of the American soldiers fighting the war are also described in detail during those chapters.

  13. 4 out of 5

    S.

    read it many years ago, and can barely remember it, except for some sort of completely foreign take on the u.s.; author does this weird thing where he stares at a U.S. officer shirtless in the jungle and wonders how many hamburgers made that body. an early premonition about the homosxual? Japanese. of course that's a simplistic read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samina Nguyen

    I thought that this book was really interesting due to the fact that it was from the perspective of a foreigner as a Japanese journalist rather than from the usual perspective of an American soldier, a Vietnamese soldier, or a Vietnamese citizen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Lots of historical detail - an interesting & graphic study of the Vietnam war from the eyes of a war correspondent. Read this because it was recommended by my advisor, a Mark Twain expert, for its discussion of A Connecticut Yankee. Pretty interesting when studied side-by-side with Twain's work. Lots of historical detail - an interesting & graphic study of the Vietnam war from the eyes of a war correspondent. Read this because it was recommended by my advisor, a Mark Twain expert, for its discussion of A Connecticut Yankee. Pretty interesting when studied side-by-side with Twain's work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    One of the most interesting things about this novel set during the Vietnam war is that we Americans are little more than background props. It's about Asians caught up in an Asian war. I found that perspective intriguing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary Spielmann

    My favorite book about Vietnam, this is not the war from our perspective, but from a Japanese journalist's one. Incredibly interesting and adamantly anti-war.

  18. 5 out of 5

    lesley

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paraph

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gary Fitch

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Santiago

  23. 4 out of 5

    T.R. Napper

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Penneym

  26. 5 out of 5

    James Redwood

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gerardo Guss

  28. 4 out of 5

    Goda Mo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bill Johnston

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