Steinbeck's “last words” were about the war in Vietnam. Written in 1966–67, Steinbeck's Vietnam dispatches were published in newspapers across America as “Letters to Alicia” and have been collected for the first time in Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War, edited by Thomas Barden. In a lucid introduction and afterword, Barden explains why the ailing Steinbeck, whose son John was serving in Vietnam, felt compelled to witness this unpopular war for himself. While Steinbeck's “last words” are far from his best, they nonetheless offer captivating evidence of a writer who cared deeply about his country's stake in the world.

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