In 1967 Larry Heinemann was sent to Vietnam as an ordinary soldier. It was the most horrific year of his life, truly altering him—and his family—forever. In his powerful memoir, Heinemann returns to Vietnam, riding the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city and confronting the memories of his war year. Black Virgin Mountain confirms Heinemann’s legendary plain-spoken reputation as one of the essential chroniclers of our war in Vietnam
This may be the only book written by an American veteran that harshly condemns Gen. William Westmoreland and sings the praises of Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap. Heinemann's autobiographical Close Quarters (1977) is one of the most underappreciated in-country Vietnam War novels; Paco's Story (1987), a biting tale of the war's brutal emotional aftermath, won the National Book Award for fiction. Part memoir, part travelogue, part personal political treatise, Heinemann's first nonfiction effort is also a winner. His evocative look at his eventful 1967 1968 tour with a 25th Infantry Division mechanized infantry battalion contains a bitterly strong indictment of the politicians and generals who waged the war, and tracks his transformation from a nonpolitical son of the working class into a disillusioned young soldier who became virulently politicized. That narrative is framed by a trip Heinemann took to Vietnam in 1992 with fellow American Vietnam veteran writers as guests of the Vietnam Writers Association. What he found on that and subsequent visits jibes with nearly all of the other "going back" books by American veterans: a warm welcome from a nation at peace. The book's title refers to an epiphanic climb in 1992 to the top of Black Virgin (Nui Ba Den) Mountain a talisman of sorts to many Americans who served in Tay Ninh Province during the war: "I'm home, I say to myself; I have arrived home; this place is home."