Tree of Smoke

Tree of Smoke

Book - 2007
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This is the story of William "Skip" Sands, CIA--engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong--and the disasters that befall him. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert and into a war where the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
Description: 614 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780374279127
Branch Call Number: John


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Feb 23, 2020

I am halfway though this book and cannot put it down.

A completely different viewpoint of Vietnam's place in the war that was our undoing as a nation.

Jan 28, 2020

I loved the writing and I felt right at home following the characters around in Denis Johnson's Vietnam War setting, but the story simply wasn't for me. Tree of Smoke gives me a Catch-22 vibe, a story I eventually learned to love but is a hard book to relate to, and there's a little bit of that going on here. Other reviews have suggested that more-than-a-passing awareness of Vietnamese history in a mid-20th century context is required to appreciate what this novel is trying to say. I can certainly understand that.

Sep 02, 2019

I was hoping for more about the infantry and reconnaissance missions which there was very little of. Or just when it would get good the story would shift back to the CIA psy-ops story which is what most of the book is about. Also there's a Canadian missionary who has quite a bit to do with the multiple ongoing stories. I was not satisfied with the story of the Houston brothers who I thought were the most interesting and real of the cast of characters. I only read this because I'm reading all of his novels.

Dec 17, 2015

Sprawling, intense and visceral, Denis Johnson's "Tree of Smoke" will no doubt become one of the great books about the Vietnam War. With its large cast of characters, multiple plots and large scale, it's like a baggy Victorian novel soaked in blood, weed and sweat. It does drag on towards the end, but few other American authors (James Ellroy, maybe DeLillo) have attempted something as ambitious, massive and profound as this. Like "Jesus' Son," it's raw, yet filled with piercing, lyrical moments of beauty. Maybe not a masterpiece, but awfully close.

dccmatthew Apr 21, 2012

Brilliant writing, a tour de force of poetic evocation of the chaos of any war. Very funny satire (or truth) of the intercises between reality and military intelligence. Think "Deer Hunter" with a wicked sense of fun and devilish humor.

Feb 22, 2012

A narrow look at the Vietnam War era, focusing on CIA intrigue and the ruined lives of the characters. Crammed full of swearing, drunken and cynical guys with little insight into any larger context. Anti-communist perspective combined with misplaced religion. I kept reading this very long book because I thought surely someone would have learned something from the war. But everyone crashed and burned.

Dec 06, 2010

2007 - National Book Award - Fiction

Feb 08, 2008 top 25 books of 2007.

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