Vietnam Labyrinth: Allies, Enemies, and Why the U.S. Lost the War

Tran Ngoc Chau with Ken Fermoyle, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg. Texas Tech Univ., $39.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-89672-771-7
More than 20 years in the making, this detailed memoir covers the author's long, eventful life that includes fighting against the French in the Viet Minh Army from 1945 to 1950, and much longer service on the other side as a solider and politician serving the national governments of South Vietnam fighting the communists. A fervent nationalist and devout Buddhist, Chau had become disillusioned, seeing Ho Chi Minh and other leaders as more committed to communist ideology than to the Vietnamese people. Chau rose to the upper echelons of the South Vietnamese government, but fell prey to the political machinations of his former close friend and was jailed on trumped-up charges. After the communist takeover in 1975, Chau was placed in draconian re-education camps until he and his family escaped to the U.S. in 1979. Chau offers thoughts on what the Americans did wrong during the Vietnam War with a list that includes arrogance; ignorance of Vietnamese history, society and culture; and the failure to gain the trust of the Vietnamese at the grassroots level. The book is clearly—if sometimes tiresomely —written. It contains a mountain of eyewitness testimony from a high-placed player in nearly every important military and political event that occurred in South Vietnam from the end of WWII until the communist victory in 1975. 10 B&w photos. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
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