cover image Vietnam


David Chanoff, Doan Van Toai. I. B. Tauris & Company, $24.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-86064-076-6

Noting that much has been written on the experiences of American soldiers in Vietnam, Chanoff (coauthor, Into the Heart, etc.), who teaches at Brandeis, and Toai, a Vietnamese writer, undertook to present an untold aspect of the Vietnam War story: firsthand accounts from Vietnamese who lived and served on ""the other side."" For two years, the authors tracked down and interviewed exiles living in the U.S., France and Southeast Asia, asking questions not just about the war but also about the subjects' personal lives and daily affairs in Vietnam. The process was immensely difficult at times. ""As open as Americans tend to be, just so secretive are Vietnamese,"" writes Chanoff in an afterword. ""Their history has taught them not to reveal themselves."" But in the few dozen personal stories the authors present here, revelations pour forth. Some are deeply tragic. Others offer high comedy, as in the episode where a Communist cadre member is purged after confessing ""decadent"" love affairs during a mandatory self-criticism session. The personal tales also contain many notable military tidbits, including one veteran's comment that he was more afraid of the Australians than of the Americans, since the former were better guerrilla fighters. This is a worthy addition to the body of Vietnam War literature. (Oct.)