“A tender and courageous and truly haunting memoir—one of the very best to emerge from the American war in Vietnam. I loved this book. ” —Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
In this piercingly honest memoir, renowned poet Bruce Weigl explores the central experience of his life as a writer and a man: the Vietnam War, which tore his life apart and inspired his poetic voice.
Weigl knew nothing about Vietnam before enlisting in 1967, but he saw a free ride out of a difficult childhood among volatile people. The war completely changed his life; there was a before and then an irrevocable after. In the before, Weigl pretended to be dead in mock battles with his friends; in the after, he watched as a boy from his unit whispered to Vietnamese corpses while caring for their inert bodies as if they were dolls.
Weigl returned from Vietnam unprepared to cope with civilian life. He turned to alcohol, drugs, and women in an attempt to escape his confused purgatory, but only found himself alone, watching other people’s lives from the shadows. Eventually finding his way back into the world, Weigl drew solace from poetry and, later, from a family.
Yet, it is not until his harrowing journey back to Hanoi, to adopt a Vietnamese daughter, that Weigl finds redemption. This act of personal humanity and recompense to a nation he helped to destroy lies at the heart of his memoir. The Circle of Hanh is a “moving, singular, and highly readable” chronicle of a haunted life and, ultimately, a stunning work of healing (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).