Seeking Quan Am: A Dual Memoir of War and Vietnam (Paperback)
Mark M. Smith served two tours in Vietnam, 1967 to 1969, with the 1st Air Cavalry Division. In the 1970s and 80s, Mark wrote about his experience. The story of the first tour was written in short episodes, with exact dates and place names, documenting the war in the villages. The second tour account began as a letter to a friend and expanded into a loosely chronological, emotional, and sensory ride through the war in the jungle.
Although they had been classmates in high school, Susan Dixon took a very different path after graduation. She learned about war from observing its aftermath during travel in Europe and the Middle East. She learned about the war in Vietnam by reading the New York Times and watching the nightly news. Her visceral response to politicians and military leaders defending an engagement she could see they did not believe in pushed her into anti-war action based in the Campus Y at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Decades later, after Mark and Susan reconnected, traveled with a group to Vietnam, and learned to talk about war, they began work on Seeking Quan Am, Mark's account of his two tours, written in the 70s, Susan's account of her life in connection to war and anti-war, and the story of their reconnection with each other and with Vietnam decades later. Through all runs a theme - the request Mark made of Susan when he handed her his files. He asked her to "makes some sense of them."