This summer, I read this compelling but often upsetting account with my sons: ages 11 and 15. Not all families will find the material suitable for children. Nonetheless, I thought these two were ready. (Note also that my youngest got frustrated on occasion, trying to pronounce all the foreign names and phrases.) But in the end, it was worth the effort. My boys were already interested in the region and its history given our role with a living-learning community concerned with global issues, so we chose this as our summer reading unanimously. We all found it a superb conversation starter and engaging story. Even now, as we approach the new school year, we continue to refer back to its episodes as we discuss the importance of moral courage in chaotic times, stories about a gutsy woman who rode a Harley Davidson into a bar to order her drinks before riding off into the sunset, and the potential hazards of smuggling fermented fish sauce through combat zones.
This is an enlightening read for those who think they've already got "that old crazy Asian war" figured out. It is especially helpful that this comes from a German and a top-notch journalist with enough distance from the politics of the war to bring us intimately close to the people who suffered in the wake of political upheaval.
Don't just take my word for it. Check out these reviews from World Magazine, the National Review, and David Warren.