Johnson Covers Vietnam, CIA in 'Tree of Smoke' Denis Johnson's new novel, Tree of Smoke, is one of the late summer's big books in a number of ways. It covers the Vietnam War and the U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia — and the life of a CIA agent whose career grows with the war. Also, it's more than 600 pages long.


Book Reviews

Johnson Covers Vietnam, CIA in 'Tree of Smoke'

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Alan Cheuse is going to review it for us in 102 seconds.

ALAN CHEUSE: The breadth and length of this book requires some patience. But for a reader with stamina, the rewards come steadily. Johnson is a fine stylist of the world of soulful disaster. The phrase tree of smoke, as he presents it, is the literal translation from the Hebrew of the pillar in Exodus. This time - in these pages - that pillar of smoke leads us to a dark, dark vision of a promised land.

BLOCK: The novel is "Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson. Our reviewer Alan Cheuse teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. And his latest work of fiction - out this month - is called "The Fires."

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