American Romantic

American Romantic

Ward Just / May 30, 2020

American Romantic Harry Sanders is a young foreign service officer in s Indochina when a dangerous and clandestine meeting with insurgents ending in quiet disaster and a brief but passionate encounter with Sieglind

  • Title: American Romantic
  • Author: Ward Just
  • ISBN: 9780544196377
  • Page: 358
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Harry Sanders is a young foreign service officer in 1960s Indochina when a dangerous and clandestine meeting with insurgents ending in quiet disaster and a brief but passionate encounter with Sieglinde, a young German woman, alter the course of his life.Absorbing the impact of his misstep, Harry returns briefly to Washington before eventual assignments in Africa, ScandinavHarry Sanders is a young foreign service officer in 1960s Indochina when a dangerous and clandestine meeting with insurgents ending in quiet disaster and a brief but passionate encounter with Sieglinde, a young German woman, alter the course of his life.Absorbing the impact of his misstep, Harry returns briefly to Washington before eventual assignments in Africa, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean He marries the captivating May, who is fleeing her own family disappointments in worn out upper New England and looking for an escape into Harry s diplomatic life On the surface, they are a handsome, successful couple but the memory of Sieglinde persists in Harry s thoughts, and May has her own secrets too As Harry navigates the increasingly treacherous waters of diplomacy in an age of interminable conflict, he also tries to bridge the distances between himself and the two alluring women who have chosen to love him.Ward Just, returning to his trademark territory of Forgetfulness and The Weather in Berlin, delivers an utterly compelling story of Americans trying to run the world, yet failing to master their lives.

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      358 Ward Just
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      Published :2019-06-25T17:10:19+00:00

    About "Ward Just"

      • Ward Just

        Ward Just born 1935 is an American writer He is the author of 15 novels and numerous short stories.Ward Just graduated from Cranbrook School in 1953 He briefly attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut He started his career as a print journalist for the Waukegan Illinois News Sun He was also a correspondent for Newsweek and The Washington Post from 1959 to 1969, after which he left journalism to write fiction.His influences include Henry James and Ernest Hemingway His novel An Unfinished Season was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005 His novel Echo House was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997 He has twice been a finalist for the O Henry Award in 1985 for his short story About Boston, and again in 1986 for his short story The Costa Brava, 1959 His fiction is often concerned with the influence of national politics on Americans personal lives Much of it is set in Washington D.C and foreign countries Another common theme is the alienation felt by Midwesterners in the East.According to Washington Post book critic Jonathan Yardley, Just s three finest novels are A Family Trust, An Unfinished Season and Exiles In The Garden.Just was recently named one of the first recipients of a Berlin Prize Fellowship from the American Academy He lives in Martha s Vineyard with his wife, Sarah Catchpole.


    1. With American Romantic, author Ward Just hits another one out of the park for me [in the interest of full disclosure: I won this book from Giveaway; this review represents my own opinions].Just once again wins me over with his exquisite prose, and gentle, almost melancholic, atmosphere. I'm not that easily won over-I have an unfair aversion to white, male writers, especially those who appear to be affluent members of New England society. (The last is purely my prejudice; other than knowing he l [...]

    2. First, a big thank you to FirstReads and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for enabling me to be one of the early readers of this powerful new novel.Ward Just has been writing books for over 40 years now and they just keep getting better and better. There’s a ring of authenticity to his books and insights that, for me, call to mind Graham Greene. For me, American Romantic ranks among his very finest.Foreign services officer Harry Sanders is at the beginning of his career, yet realizes that his “ [...]

    3. The hero of Ward Just’s novel is Harry Sanders, a young junior diplomatic officer in Viet Nam just before the escalation of US involvement in the war there. Two events occur early in the story that shadow Harry throughout the rest of his career. One is his very brief affair with Sieglinde, a young German woman working on a German hospital ship, herself an orphan perpetually fleeing from Germany and her memories there. The second is a clandestine assignment in which Harry is sent into the jungl [...]

    4. American Romantic is not among Just's best work, but I was impressed with:He was eager to read the newspaper's accounts of the presidential campaign, now in full October flower. A black man running for the presidency! Harry had lived outside the country for so long he could not fathom how such a thing could happen, yet here he was, a graduate of both Columbia University and Harvard Law, a white man's pedigree. He was a marvelous writer. The last time a writer had occupied the White House was the [...]

    5. We first meet Harry Sanders in Indochina in the early 60s. Young, somewhat idealistic, given the eponymous title by a lover. Harry could be a stand-in for American hubris, thinking diplomacy can make everything all right. Later, a more jaded Harry, likens his life in the diplomatic corps to Sisyphus and his rock. His wife, more pragmatic, objected to that point of view, "arguing that nothing was more idealistic than the pursuit of a doomed objective." Such is the baserock of this immersive novel [...]

    6. Just is a good novelist. The plot was a good one, but it meandered a bit too much for my taste. I was also put off by his decision not to use quotes with the dialogue. Not sure I understand why he did this. I am sure it made things confusing at times. But maybe that's just me.

    7. "we will not speak of it further"I almost titled this Our Man in 'Nam. The first hundred pages or so of this urbane and intriguing novel are reminiscent of Graham Greene's The Quiet American. Harry Sanders, a junior career diplomat, is stationed in Vietnam (clearly, although never named), and is involved in an incident way beyond the normal expectations of his post and rank. There is the same acute sense of foreigners living at ease in a country on the brink of war, and of dangerous forces heavi [...]

    8. Readers who have sampled any of Ward Just’s previous seventeen novels, as I have not, probably do not need my recommendation to read American Romantic. Those who are not familiar with him may want to read my review first because American Romantic is not for everyone. Our book club was divided. Some didn’t get beyond the initial chapters; others didn’t finish it. Expectations are such these days that some readers have little patience for works that require an investment––i.e giving an a [...]

    9. 4.5 stars"The bare bones of a well-told story required coherence, ironic asides and a plot as well-knit and tied together as a jigsaw puzzle and somewhere in it a detail as provocative as a cat in a tree.''That's from Ward Just's new novel American Romantic (Houghton Mifflin, digital galley), a well-told story if ever there was one, complete with such provocative details as a cat in a tree, a meeting in the jungle, a girl in a hammock, a car over a cliff. All play a part in the life of diplomat [...]

    10. Our protagonist, Harry Sanders, is a well to do east coast, (Connecticut), liberal, career foreign officer – bordering on stereotypical or at least typecast. Harry is also a familiar – and almost stereotypical - Ward Just character; an articulate, intelligent American, who spends as little time as possible in the US, and to put it mildly, is emotionally detached as he meanders through life.In this novel the reader follows Harry’s life and times; specifically his State Dept. foreign posting [...]

    11. Ward Just is the author of seventeen novels and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It is puzzling then to find that his 2014 offering, American Romantic turns out to be pallid and lifelessericanromanticWard Just, obviously, is an admirer of Joseph Conrad’s stories of foreigners in exotic settings. He also loves painters –– Italian Renaissance masters, Goya, French Impressionists, the American, Marsden Hartley –– and refers to them often. Unfortunate [...]

    12. I received American Romantic as part of a giveaway.Harry Sanders works in the foreign service in Southeast Asia in the turbulent 1960s. Following a passionate love affair with a German woman, Sieglinde, and a professional catastrophe, he returns home defeated. There he meets his eventual wife, May, while Harry's career continues in posts around the world. Though no matter how far he travels, the two women who populate his past and present continue to affect him deeply.The writing is very good, [...]

    13. Ward Just's American Romantic had great potential as it offered new insight into the ramifications of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, for this reader, the story sputtered and characters became more enigmatic as the story unfolded. The author rushed[ the narrative and couldn't wait to accelerate the protagonist into old age for no reason other than draw a predictable conclusion.

    14. This is my third try at a Ward Just novel. He seems like a novelist that I should find appealing. But I just have not found any of the ones I've tried very interesting. Two of the three (including this one) have been okay--nothing to object to--just not that interesting; the other one didn't even rise to that level for me. This one is about a career diplomat. The first half focuses on one life-altering, career-shaping event when he was a young man serving during a conflict in an unnamed country- [...]

    15. would not go higher than a 3.5 here!This story is about a bygone era where governement service was a noble cause undertaken by an American nobility that is less at the forefront of power as in the stories recounted here.There is always a nostalgic feel to these types of novels that send you off to a time of greater "innocence", but in this case, it just lacks interesting plot lines

    16. While not a fan of "fine literature" (dysfunctional families, depressing storylines), I found American Romantic to be quite entertaining. Good solid writing and an astute look at American diplomacy at the turn of the 20th century.

    17. Although I have known of Ward Just for many years, this is the first of his works that I have read. My prior view had been that he writes from "inside the Beltway," has the intuition and sensibilities of a D.C. insider, and writes primarily for an audience of Eastern liberals, government types or other elitists who want to know (or think they know) what it is like on the inside. (I don't fit this description.) In other words, I was prepared not to like this book.This much better than average boo [...]

    18. This is my favoriteWard Just novel so far and I am so glad that I still have a few more to go. The story describes the life of Harry Sanders, a young American foreign service officer in Vietnam who becomes involved in an ill-fated mission of parley with an enemy officer that nearly destroys him. Harry picks up the pieces and settles into a fairly comfortable diplomatic life from which he eventually retires. The key to the tale, however, is in what is missing, and what cannot be said. Near the en [...]

    19. On the back cover of the dust jacket appears this quote from the Boston Globe: "There comes a moment. . .when a reader is brought up short by how spectacularly well Ward Just writes fiction. . Its effect is nearly explosive."Hmmm. There's a scene early in this novel in which the protagonist kills a boy in the jungle in Vietnam in which the writing is very good. Not explosive, but very good. I kept reading to find more such scenes but failed. Just's novel is mostly a summary of much of Harry Sand [...]

    20. I loved this book about foreign service officer Harry Sanders and "his war," a war one can assume is the Vietnam War but is only referred to as the war in Indochina. After Harry has a passionate but brief love affair with a German woman, Sieglinde, he is saddened and confused when she vanishes from his life without even a goodbye by sailing off into the night on her medical ship. Harry then follows his ambassador's orders to meet clandestinely with an enemy leader in hopes of resolving some of t [...]

    21. As my rating shows, I didn’t much like AMERICAN ROMANTIC, but I respected the skill and earnestness of the novelist. Equally experienced in the maze of the Vietnam War and the machinations of Washington, Ward Just starts AMERICAN ROMANTIC in the earliest, hazy days leading up to the escalation of that ill-conceived conflict. He never names the place in Indochina to which idealistic foreign service officer Harry Sanders has been posted. However, Just describes incomprehensibly teeming city stre [...]

    22. Familiar themes for Just, as always, handled gracefully. The novel covers fifty years in the life of American diplomat Harry Sanders, from a posting in 1964 Saigon to his retirement in the south of France. Harry's life is inexorbitaly changed by an ill conceived mission in Vietnam which he barely survives, to do so he has to kill a young Viet Cong soldier. He is left crippled physically and emotionally. Returning to Saigon he finds that Sieglinde, the German woman he is in love with, has left fo [...]

    23. Harry Sanders is the title character of AMERICAN ROMANTIC, a Foreign Service officer from Connecticut. As a young man he is posted to Viet Nam, before the war was a war, when the U.S. military presence was called a Military Assistance Command. The events and people he becomes involved with in Indochina continue to be important touchstones for him, as his life and career move downstream, especially his brief romance with a young German woman named Sieglinde and an ill-starred meeting with a leade [...]

    24. As an aging romantic myself, I was a bit disappointed in this book. It starts relatively well with an early defining moment, like a small firecracker that leaves a persistent odor. The middle of the book drags a bit, but the ending chapters offer some compensation for finishing the book. As a retired traveler in much of the same world as the book describes, I found it a little thin on the substance of the life lived by those wondering the world. Certainly, foreign service officers would find man [...]

    25. I like Ward Just and his writing style, a real writer's writer, but this is the second book in a row that disappointed. The book has a great start, with Harry Sanders beginning his career in diplomacy in the jungles of SE Asia during the 60's. The second half of the book takes place after Harry is retired, his wife has died and he is thinking back on his life. It reads like a completely different book. Harry is in love with a woman in each part of the book. Sieglinde, in Asia, a very complicated [...]

    26. First book by Ward Just. has a flow to it but desultory in the whole. Career diplomat with patrician roots who by his own self admission has little to show for his life's work with the exception that he disarmed and killed a young (teenage) Viet Cong in the course of a seemingly nonsensical mission into the jungle during his first diplomatic posting in Saigon in the mid 60s. He meets and falls in love with a german woman in Saigon who leaves him without notice and reappears at the very end of th [...]

    27. I won this book from . This book is haunting, romantic, and I have been trying to fairly describe it for others, but that has proven difficult. Yes, there was a story here, but it was like a long, sad, memoir. Harry Sanders is a pensive man, with more passion than healthy(?) for a woman he met years ago while stationed overseas. After a couple of demanding and almost deadly assignments, he finds himself in the role of diplomat. He married the more appropriate May, who just isn't as compelling as [...]

    28. I enjoy reading Ward Just’s novels. I did not learn about his newest novel until I found it on the New Releases shelf in the library. I usually can find my favorite authors’ books through B&N, or the New York Review of Books. For some reason, American Romantic did not make any of those lists. The book concerns the State Department career of Harry Sanders. His career begins in Vietnam where he is sent on a mission that has disastrous results. Harry returns from the mission with crippled [...]

    29. "American Romantic" by Ward Just starts out as a very good and engaging story. Then it just plateaus and flattens out.I had difficulty following dialogue. Conversations are simply sentences stacked on top of each other with no reference as to who said what. As I read, I would have to stop, then go back to the beginning of the dialogue and make note of who was saying what. Awfully annoying.Did the author have to stick a Nazi reference in when writing about the main character in Germany? Nazi shoc [...]

    30. A survey of the life of Harry Sanders, Foreign Services Officer, from Connecticut. Harry's posting start in Vietnam - prior to the war - where he is involved with an incident that affects his future assignments! Then postings to various countries in Africa, to Oslo, South America with Washington in between. His profession is diplomacy and Ward Just draws you into Harry's comfortable childhood where he is exposed to world affairs in a casual and cultural manner.Through his career Harry marries an [...]

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