Bronze Drum

Grand Central. Aug. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9781538753705. pap. $17.99. F
Nguyen’s third novel (after Roundabout) is based on real-life events in 40 CE Vietnam, when the Viet people rose up against the Han Chinese oppressors who were conscripting Viet men, forcing marriages, and levying exorbitant taxes on the populace. When their nobleman father is executed, the Trung sisters, Nhi and Trac, discard their feminine garb and became generals in the fight for independence of the Viet people. By the end of the first month of battle, they are joined by women from all walks of life, from aristocrats to farmers, and the Trung sisters ride into battle astride elephants, brandishing weapons and leading an army of 70,000 women in an effort to free their nation. Eventually the Viet people did regain their freedom and independence from the Han, but not without suffering terrible losses.
VERDICT Nguyen’s beautifully written novel will be an eye-opener to people who don’t know the turbulent history of the Lac Viet and the Han. Readers who remember the Vietnam War, and the part the United States played in it, might come away with a better understanding of the region and its people.
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