A firsthand report on contemporary Vietnam presents a portrait of a nation that is struggling under the hold of Communism and places the Vietnam War in the perspective of a four-thousand-year history
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Kamm, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent for the New York Times who has been reporting from Southeast Asia for more than a quarter century, here explores Vietnam, its resilient people, its history and its likely future. The men and women he introduces us to include General Tran Cong Man, unofficial spokesman for the Communist Party; Duong Thu Huong, a dissident whose defiance of unjust authority landed her in solitary confinement; Duong Quynh Hoa, one of the founders of the National Liberation Front, whose comments reflect the disillusionment many Southerners feel toward Hanoi's postwar policies; and Pham Xuan An, who worked as a Time correspondent during the war while secretly serving as a Viet Cong colonel. In his interviews, including those with survivors of the My Lai massacre, Kamm notes the astonishing absence of postwar hostility toward the Americans. On the other hand, there is little forgiveness toward veterans of the defeated "puppet army"; Kamm reports that Saigon's National Cemetery, with its thousands of ARVN dead, has been razed. He concludes that Vietnam, standing on its own after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is a stable country and that its heightened confidence seems justified. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Americans routinely refer to the country's experience fighting the war in Vietnam simply as "Vietnam," and New York Times correspondent Kamm's sobering look at Vietnam's people today is highly instructive in pointing out the differences and the similarities between the two cultures of then and now. Kamm's first stop is My Lai, where the worst massacre of civilians by GIs took place, and despite constant reminders of the killings, the native Vietnamese are philosophical, almost forgiving. From there it's on to Saigon and Hanoi, where Kamm deftly contrasts the burgeoning capitalism and the communism that's hanging on. Kamm speaks with Vietnamese people in the cities and in the tiny hamlets, where the locals live in poverty as their ancestors did centuries ago, oblivious to the benefits of the Communist revolution. The author's take on U.S. involvement and lack of cultural awareness of the Vietnamese people is hard to argue, whatever your view on the war, and Kamm's prose is flavored with exactly the right amounts of straightforward journalism and passion. Joe Collins
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