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Vietnam: A Portrait of Its People at War [Paperback]

David Chanoff , Doan Van Toai

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Book Description

19 Jan 2009
The American experience during the Vietnam conflict is universally known: the brutalization of the US fighting men, the drug abuse and the trauma. Even today the very word 'Vietnam' is too often interpreted as referring to this conflict (and specifically the American perception of it) rather than to the country and its people. The view from the other side - the Vietcong and North Vietnamese - has been virtually ignored. In this remarkable piece of oral history the story emerges of the ordinary people of both North and South Vietnam, of the Vietcong guerrilla fighters and terrorists, North Vietnamese soldiers and cadres, monks, opposition leaders, propaganda chiefs and village secretaries. 'Vietnam: A Portrait of its People at War' provides an account of dedication and heroism at all levels and also of the brutality and trauma faced by a people in the grip of revolution and war.

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'More than two decades after it was first published, Vietnam: A Portrait of Its People at War stands out as one of the most penetrating and valuable studies of the conflict that consumed the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai capture the extraordinary variety of Vietnamese motives and experiences by letting Vietnamese soldiers, officials, and peasants speak for themselves. The overall effect is to bring the 'other side' to life with unrivalled richness and complexity. This book remains essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the Vietnam War.' --Mark Lawrence, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

About the Author

David Chanoff writes on subjects that range from literary history to foreign policy for publications including the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post and The New Republic and is author of several books, including a collaboration with Ariel Sharon on his autobiography. Doan Van Toai was a student political leader and anti-war activist in Vietnam, for which he was imprisoned on several occasions. He went into exile in Paris in 1978. He is author of many books including The Vietnamese Gulag. Together Chanoff and Toai have collaborated on two earlier books.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Contribution Which Fills Many Gaps 26 May 1998
By spopkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is that rare book on Vietnam which contributes new information which is essential to understanding the war and the country. Chanoff and Toai have assembled an extraordinary set of new interviews, published reminiscences, and war-time interrogation reports with northern and southern Vietnamese participants in the decades long struggle to build a unified communist country.
These are as frank and revealing a set of eyewitness interviews as anyone is ever likely to assemble. They deal honestly and painfully with the hardships of war, the combination of idealism and brutality that pervade daily life during war, and the shattered dreams of many participants during land reform, ideological purges and power grabs.
I consider this one of the 15 or 20 books that belongs on everyone's list of the ten most important books written on the war. Along with books by David Marr, Hue-Tam Ho Tai and Le Ly Hayslip, I consider it one of the essential sources on Vietnam itself. There is not just the insight of personal memoirs from well-known events, there are also many major revelations about critical events in the war -- such as the Buddhist struggles and the building of the Ho Chi Minh trail.
I have been teaching courses on the contry and the war for over 20 years at the University of California at San Diego. I expect to be using this book in class for many years.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating to hear the other perspective. 13 Jan 2004
By "politicalnut" - Published on Amazon.com
This was quite interesting and I will use a few of the interviews for my teaching of the Vietnam War in my US History class. Nice to expose my students to the "enemy".
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christopher Whybrow 26 Dec 2011
By Christopher W. Whybrow - Published on Amazon.com
A very interesting read. One question however does remain unanswered. Having fought so hard for the communists, why did these same people abandon Vietnam for the west?
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlighting reading 27 May 2014
By Thomas Brenkus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must book to read to get a better understanding of the Vietnamese people,I could not put it down. Great reading
5.0 out of 5 stars The other voice 9 Aug 2013
By Alejandro Casalegno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Is a good book about the vietnamese soldiers, the irony is almost all in the book deserted the communist goverment.
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