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4.7 out of 5 stars35
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 31 March 2002
This is the best book I have ever read (and I've read a few!)
Gray tells the story of the history of conflict in Vietnam over a period of 50 years (1925-1975).
It starts with French involvement, then Japanese, then British, then French again, then the fateful American involvement up to the evacuation in 1975.
The difference with this book is that Gray tells the story from all sides by personalising the conflict. He does this by following a Vietnamese family, an American family, a French family, and a couple of times people mentioned in the book who you've got to know come together on the battlefield (Tet offensive 1968).
It is without doubt an incredible book telling the true story of a nation that seems unable to live in peace for centuries and focuses on 50 years of that time (the most eventful).
Your heart goes out to the ordinary Vietnamese that just want to live in peace, to the young American GI's who haven't a clue why they're there.
You've got to read this
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This long and detailed saga of 20th century Vietnam follows 3 families, one French, one American and one Vietnamese through decades of that country's turbulent and troubled history. It centres around young American Joseph Sherman from 1925 when he visits French Indo-China for the first time to his last visit at the end of the Vietnam war. As traveller, soldier and reporter he is uniquely placed to reflect the key political, military and social changes and challenges that faced Vietnam as it moved towards independence.
Essentially an adventure story, with the required romance thrown in, this book cannot claim to be great literary fiction. The characters sometimes verge on caricature, the plot is often contrived and the coincidences too frequent, but if you enjoy a complex and compelling tale, but one where you can effortlessly absorb historical fact at the same time, then this one is for you. If you prefer rather more subtle writing, then perhaps not. However, it's certainly informative and enlightening about Vietnam and as such has much to recommend it.
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on 11 April 2000
Never has a book inspired or captured my imagination so much as Anthony Grey's Saigon.
It is a beautifully written piece of fiction that is more factual than most history books. The book follows an American, from his first visit to the country in 1926 at the height of French Indo -China and concludes on the roof of the American Embassy in April 1975, fifty years later.
In the intervening half century a great tale is spun by Anthony Grey of the principal character witnessing every key event politically, socially and militarily, as Vietnam slowly and painfully eases its way to independence.
This book not only provides an interesting look at Vietnam's history, but does so where the reader becomes part of the unravelling saga and so you build up an immense emotional attachment to the chartacters and country.
If you are interested in the historic turbulence of Vietnam's history and its ruinous results to the people then read this book.
I read this book for the first time more than ten years ago yet still I find myself thinking back to it.
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A really good history of Vietnam in novel form. The story begins in 1925 with an American senator and his family on a hunting trip and ends with the last US citizens and their allies being lifted by helicopter from the embassy grounds in 1975. The lives of the Shermans are intertwined with French and Vietnamese families. Needless to say there are some unlikely coincidences. But in the long run these don't matter because the book as a whole gives a great picture of Vietnam and how different classes of people reacted to life there. Grey doesn't spare us from the agonies suffered by millions in the long war against French, Japanese and US imperialism.

I read it just before travelling to Vietnam - I would say it is essential reading for all visitors - especially those who know little about the Vietnam War.
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on 2 July 2013
As good a read as when I first read it all those years ago.When you think where the author was and the situation he was in when worked out the book,it really is a great achievement.Why its never been made into a film I cannot understand.If you are going to Vietnam you could worse than read this first.
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on 10 May 2004
Saigon by Anthony Grey is without doubt the greatest novel I have ever read. It tells the story of the fight of the vietnamese people to gain independence from the early 1910s right through to the vietnam war. The story is truly epic and deeply based in historical accuracy. But despite this the story is fantastically vivid and never bores you with fact instead incorporating it into grandoise sequences with vivid detail.
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on 25 June 2014
Brilliant!
This is how history should be taught. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Michener epics, or likes their history wrapped in a novel with characters they can emphasise with.
Well researched, superbly written, gripping… I loved it!
This fascinating epic book worthy of Michener covers 5 decades of the life of Joseph, the main character, his family, and relationships with friends and enemies.
Fascinating novel . It gripped me immediately and I have been unable to put it down. The unbiased information about a tragic time in Viet-Nam over 5 decades has changed my perception of the conflict and helped me understand better the deep-seated hatred of the brutal colonial French regime and appreciate the key social and political changes that occurred over the years.
Also gave me an insight into the tortuous scheming politicians resort to regardless of consequences.
Read it!
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on 11 March 2010
I first read this in 1994 and loved the story. The writing is superb. The attention to detail is breath-taking. The historical detail is perfect. My only criticism of this particular book is the use of American spelling. It is a distraction.
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on 14 June 2000
Having lived and worked in Vietnam prior to reading this book, I had already developed a deep sense of love for the country and its people. Reading this book a couple of years after this experience brought back memories of all I had experienced. Anthony Grey details the history and culture of Vietnam as it evolved during the turbulent 20th century in an way that will inspire you and educate you, all while weaving an incredible story of human love and compassion.
I can safely say that this is one of the best books I have ever read.
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on 8 June 2013
I am not sure how true the historical references are but the author certain has great credibility.. It is a great story and an enlightening insight into the colonial world and American interference. Great book
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