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Tree of Smoke

Johnson, Denis, 1949- (Book - 2007 )
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Tree of Smoke
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Baker & Taylor
The lives of Skip Sands, a spy-in-training engaged in psychological operations against the Vietcong, and brothers Bill and James Houston, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war, intertwine in a compelling novel of America during the Vietnam War.

McMillan Palgrave
Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and finally as simply the Fucking American. That’s me.

This is the story of Skip Sands—spy-in-training, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong—and the disasters that befall him thanks to his famous uncle, a war hero known in intelligence circles simply as the Colonel. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, and its gritty, sympathetic portraits of men and women desperate for an end to their loneliness, whether in sex or death or by the grace of God, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

Tree of Smoke is Denis Johnson’s first full-length novel in nine years, and his most gripping, beautiful, and powerful work to date.

Tree of Smoke is the 2007 National Book Award Winner for Fiction.


Holtzbrinck
Once upon a time there was a war . . . and a young American who thought of himself as the Quiet American and the Ugly American, and who wished to be neither, who wanted instead to be the Wise American, or the Good American, but who eventually came to witness himself as the Real American and finally as simply the Fucking American. That’s me.

This is the story of Skip Sands—spy-in-training, engaged in Psychological Operations against the Vietcong—and the disasters that befall him thanks to his famous uncle, a war hero known in intelligence circles simply as the Colonel. This is also the story of the Houston brothers, Bill and James, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war in which the line between disinformation and delusion has blurred away. In its vision of human folly, and its gritty, sympathetic portraits of men and women desperate for an end to their loneliness, whether in sex or death or by the grace of God, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

Tree of Smoke is Denis Johnson’s first full-length novel in nine years, and his most gripping, beautiful, and powerful work to date.



Blackwell North Amer
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. In its vision of human folly, this is a story like nothing in our literature.

Baker
& Taylor

The lives of Skip Sands, a spy-in-training engaged in psychological operations against the Vietcong, and brothers Bill and James Houston, young men who drift out of the Arizona desert into a war, intertwine in a novel of America during the Vietnam War.

Authors: Johnson, Denis, 1949-
Statement of Responsibility: Denis Johnson
Title: Tree of smoke
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: 614 p. ; 24 cm.
Subject Headings: Vietnam War, 1961-1975 Fiction
Topical Term: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
LCCN: 2007006562
ISBN: 9780374279127
0374279128
Branch Call Number: FIC J
MARC Display»

From the critics


Library Staff

The early days of the Vietnam War are experienced by American CIA agents in a novel in which thoughts are rendered with the same visceral intensity as actions.


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Apr 21, 2012
  • dccmatthew rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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
  • kkelly00 rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

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.

2007 - National Book Award - Fiction

Amazon.ca top 25 books of 2007.

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