The book was extremely well written and proves to me once again that there are no winners in war. The other underlining theme of the novel is that wars don't end when treaties are signed. Wars stick with people forever. The author wrote: "Each of us carried in his heart a separate war which in many ways was totally different, despite our common cause. We had different memories of people we'd known and of the war itself, and we had different destinies in the postwar years. Our only postwar similarities stemmed from the fact that everyone had experienced difficult, painful, and different fates."
There are many powerful stories and images within the novel but perhaps the most powerful thing of all is when you read the last page. After the novel is finished, on a single page is the paragraph about the author. It says: "Bao Ninh served with the Glorious 27th Youth Brigade. Of the five hundred who went to war with the Brigade in 1969, he is one of ten who survived. He lives in Hanoi."