Vietnam war

Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Man of Two Faces

43 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the Pulitzer prize winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose new book is the memoir A Man of Two Faces. He tells me about the value of trauma to literature, learning about his history through Hollywood, falling asleep in class… and the rotten manners of Oliver Stone.    

Not just a trolley dolly: the demanding life of an air hostess

Come Fly the World is not the book I thought I was getting. The slightly (surely deliberately) pulpy cover — a glamazonian stewardess, her mirrored cat-eye sunglasses reflecting a runway — promised a Mad Men-era history of silver service and highballs at 30,000 feet, glamour, frocks and sexual shenanigans. Admittedly, deprived of the quixotic delights of a Ryanair snack pack shared with a fractious toddler on a delayed 5 a.m. flight to Alicante at the moment, I ignored the subtitle: ‘The Women of Pan Am at War and Peace.’ That sets the tone more accurately. This is a fairly serious-minded social and geopolitical history of Pan Am, 1966-1975, which takes

Messy but absolutely necessary: Da 5 Bloods reviewed

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is about four African-American vets who return to Vietnam to locate the body of their fallen squadron leader, retrieve the gold they buried (hopefully), reflect on fighting for a country that didn’t care about them — ‘we fought an immoral war for rights we didn’t have’ — and avoid descending into madness and despair (also, hopefully). Lee and his co-writers have said they were inspired by the classic films The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Apocalypse Now and Bridge on the River Kwai and this does feel like several films in one. Oh, we’re in that film now, you may think to yourself. But even