Quotes from the novel “Goodbye Vietnam”

Yesterday, I finished reading Goodbye Vietnam, a firsthand account of the Vietnam War and post-war Vietnam by William Broyles, who fought in Vietnam in 1969-70 as a junior officer, then returned 15 years later to visit the places in which he commanded Marines and also to meet some of the Vietnamese he had first fought as enemies. Goodbye Vietnam comes off as a genuine and honest account of a war that has become a less-than-stellar part of our history. 

This isn’t a particularly long account, but I can say I learned more about the war and Vietnam as a nation than any other source I have ever studied. Following are a collection of quotes that more or less jumped off the pages as I was reading.

Perhaps there is nothing less egalitarian than a Commuinist society, where privilege determines everything.

My men grew up in Vietnam. There are many better ways to do it — but few faster. College, in stark contrast, was a means of prolonged adolescence.

The gap between the task and the means to solve it was ludicrously wide.

Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell us what happened.

On neither side did the people win: the war won, and kept on winning. That is the price of a war in which the people, not land, are the battleground. To win that kind of war requires a special weapon—a moral certainty so strong as to make the suffering of individuals invisible.


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