When it first appeared in 1987, the title story of this collection of stories by Nguyen Huy Thiep caused a sensation in Vietnam. Not since the Communist revolution had readers found as stark and compelling a view of their world as The General Retires offered them. Written in spare, succinct prose, it captures the despair of an old general who, after many years of devoted service to his country, is alienated by the emptiness of the society into which he retires and ultimately flees. Nguyen probes similar themes in the stories that follow, from Cun, the moving tale of a crippled beggar, to A Drop of Blood, a dark history of a family set against decades of war and revolution. With eight powerfully written stories--all available in English for the first time--and including an introduction by Greg Lockhart that traces the varied traditions of Vietnamese literature to the present day, this collection offers unprecedented insight into a society trying to overcome and understand years of pain and civil strife.