Top 5 William T. Vollmann Books You Should Read

The writings of William T Vollmann are mostly large, but they always keep readers asking for more. Described as the last great writer of the twentieth century and first great writer of the twenty-first century, Vollmann is one of those writers that many believe must have already won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The writer was born DescriptionWilliam Tanner Vollmann on July 28, 1959, in Los Angeles California. When he was 9 years old, he was left to care for his younger sister who was six. Unfortunately, she fell into a pond and drowned and he has always felt very much responsible for her death, something that would come to influence his writing. He got his education from Deep Springs College and then he went to Cornell University where he studied comparative literature.

He started as a professional writer in 1987 and has since then published over 20 novels as well as some works of nonfiction.

William T Vollmann Books

1. Europe Central

This is one of the most popular works of Vollmann which has been rightly described as a masterpiece. It tells a story of the authoritarian cultures of Germany and the USSR, having its setting in the twentieth century. It emphasizes on the morality of people during wartime, making use of characters from history and fictional ones, centering on a German who joined the SS in order to expose their crime.

According to Vollmann, heavy research was embarked upon before writing the book. It won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2005.

2. The Rainbow Stories

The Rainbow Stories was first published in 1989 and has since then, remained one of the most loved works of Vollmann. It is a collection of short stories about the diverse American culture. The work is praised for how it is able to capture the stories of people who are often not represented including the skinheads, prostitutes, fetishists, and religious assassins among others.

The Rainbow Stories is presented in a great writing style and the stories are set in different places such as ancient Babylon, India, and San Francisco.

3. You Bright and Risen Angels

In his writings, William T Vollmann has always reflected on issues such as violence, war, and human compassion, things that are well reflected in this work. It tells the story of a battle raging between insects who are seeking to dominate the world and Inventors of electricity. On one hand, there is a man, Bug, who has joined forces with insects to wage war against them and on another, there is Wayne who has sworn to kill the praying mantis working at a bar in Oregon. It is set in the jungles of South America.

The book has received so much praise because of the intelligence with which it was written as well as the creativity in coming up with the story. You Bright and Risen Angels is a winner of the 988 Whiting Writers’ Award.

4. Rising Up and Rising Down Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means

Rising Up and Rising Down is a non-fiction work that centers on violence as well as its justification and consequences. It is a seven-volume essay collection that also includes his work of reporting from places like Iraq, Somalia, and Cambodia, among other places that have suffered the consequences of war through the years.

It embodies historical analysis, charts, facts, anecdote, case studies, and other things to buttress the need for violence as well the consequences and its results so as to allow the reader to come to his own conclusion on whether war is really needed. This has led to what is referred to as his Moral Calculus which is the decision-making system for one to decide if war is really necessary.

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5. Into the Forbidden Zone: A Trip through Hell and High Water in Post-earthquake Japan

Into the Forbidden Zone is a very adventurous work that Vollmann began shortly after the devastating earthquake in Japan. He moved to Japan only a few days after the tragic event to see things for himself and record all he could about the contamination caused radiation by the nuclear power plant.

In the highly regarded essays that he published, he got his materials first hand from people that were affected directly by it including the plagued villages. This work will always stand him out not only as one of the best writers America will ever see but probably one of the most compassionate and humane.

Chux Dezman
Chux has been writing and editing for several major websites and publications for over 16 years, when he is not crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, you might catch him at home watching his favourite TV shows


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