george saunders favorite books

3 of 8


By Michael Herr

The best Vietnam memoir ever, which should be required reading for anyone contemplating invading another country, as a reminder of the horror that will result, no matter what, when we set out to enforce virtue via murder. I first read this as an engineering student at the Colorado School of Mines, where I wrote a paper contrasting it with official army reports about the battle of Khe Sanh. The difference between these two modes—one "factual" and bureaucratic, the other intelligent and compassionate and full of sorrow—showed me what I wanted to do with my life. Reading Herr taught me that writing with intelligence and precision is a form of being in love with the world.