A Return to Vietnam and Reflections on a Divisive War

BY Larisa Epatko  April 30, 2010 at 4:02 PM EST

This week marks 35 years since the end of the conflict in Vietnam. Throughout the week, we’ve talked to authors, a photographer who covered the war, and Vietnamese-Americans who recently returned to their country of birth.

Andrew Lam, an editor at New America Media, left Vietnam with his family in 1975 when he was 11 years old. He talks to Hari Sreenivasan from his home — now in San Francisco — about a recent return visit and his observations about the growing gap between the rich and the poor:

Lam was one of the people featured in Fred de Sam Lazaro’s report about blossoming business opportunities in Vietnam and the return of many Vietnamese-Americans to their homeland:

Also this week, Jeffrey Brown talked to Tim O’Brien, author of “The Things They Carried,” which was reissued for the 35th anniversary of the end of the war. The book uses fictional stories about an American platoon to inform readers about the war.

“The word war itself has a kind of glazing abstraction to it that conjures up bombs and bullets and so on, whereas my goal is to try to, so much as I can, capture the heart and the stomach and the back of the throat of readers,” O’Brien said.

Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. James Zumwalt tells the story from a different perspective — that of the Vietnamese — in his book, “Bare Feet, Iron Will: Stories From the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields.” He speaks with Ray Suarez about his journey of emotions from bitterness toward the foe to a special kind of healing on Friday’s NewsHour.

You can watch a preview excerpt of their conversation here:

And on the Rundown, we talked to photographer David Hume Kennerly about his Pulitzer Prize-winning images of the conflict. He later became a White House photographer and witness to President Ford’s meetings on withdrawing U.S. forces from Vietnam. Find that conversation here.