Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam was compiled entirely from the avalanche of letters and poems received by the Commission for consideration to be included on the Memorial. It was published by W. W. Norton & Company simultaneously with the dedication of the Memorial. The book, which simulates a tour of duty in Vietnam, offers context for the excerpts of the letters and poems selected for inscription on the Memorial. In all, 208 pieces written by 125 people were chosen for inclusion.
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam was met with almost universal critical acclaim. “Here is the sad and beautiful countermelody of truth, audible at last, now that we have trashed the drums and cymbals of yet another senseless war,” wrote novelist Kurt Vonnegut. “What makes this book special is its honesty,” offered columnist Sydney Schanberg, who had covered the war. “The letters are real; there is no embellishment. You keep turning pages because you’re finding out – for the first time – who our Vietnam soldiers were and are.”
And from Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam correspondent Peter Arnett: “Listen to these authentic voices of the Vietnam War. They come to us after the journalists, the generals and the politicians have had their say. No full understanding of the most disastrous foreign war in American history can be complete without reading these letters from GIs to their loved ones back home.”
Nine months after publication of the hardcover, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam was published in the first of two paperback editions by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam was reissued in May 2002 by W. W. Norton, with a new introduction by Senator John McCain.
Over the years, excerpts from Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam have appeared in scores of high school textbooks published not only in the United States but in England, Germany, Finland, and Japan as well; and in such volumes as Letters of the Century, edited by Lisa Grunwald and Stephen J. Adler; Letters of a Nation, edited by Andrew Carroll; and The Vietnam Reader, edited by Stewart O’Nan.
The book may be purchased at amazon.com.