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When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace Hardcover – 1989

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First edition edition (1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385247583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385247580
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 16.5 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 831,620 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Karl Burns(normanstansfield@yahoo.com) from Glasgow,Scotland , May 22, 1999 A MUST READ FOR EVERY WALK OF LIFE I was fortunate enough to come across this wonderful book purely by chance last year.Miss le ly Hayslip gives a truely heart rending account of her life as a little peasant girl living in war torn vietnam.This book really puts you through an emotional meat grinder at times tearing apart your insides with Le ly's terrifying accounts of her own terrible suffering and that of her family and indeed all those around her leaving you with an awful empty feeling of total sadness and total lack of faith for the human race.Amazingly Despite all her own horrific experience of human ignorance and cruelty she bears no ill will or malice towards her fellow man and through her own incredible courage and strength of spirit,she inevitably leaves us all with a strong sense of hope and her message of compassion and peace. Sadly this terrific book seems to have been largly overlooked which is a great shame as it is a real eye opener and has so much more to say than just your average account of the horrors of war.Its a deeply moving account of one very brave little womans triumph of spirit in the face of total adversity.Anyone with the tiniest shred of compassion will be moved to tears.It Really puts our own little problems and gripes into perspective. One of the most profound and touching books i have ever read.I cannot recommend it enough,please get your hands on it and read it NOW
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By A Customer on 10 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book because it was assigned for an English class. Half way through the book, I hated it because it was too brutal and unsettling for somebody who knew nothing about the Vietnam War. It's hard to believe how anyone could have experienced, and yet endured all that Le Ly went through. I didn't appreciate reading about the gory and cruel details that she experienced, but after reading half way through the book, I couldn't put it down either. In the end, I really learned something about the war that most of the younger generations today never learned.. and even if we did, it was probably from the grotesquely portrayed account by Hollywood films.
This is a good book, and I have learned something truly valuable. I will never think of Vietnam war or Veterans day the same way I did before I read this book.
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By A Customer on 20 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
I have to admitt that I began to read this book with a complete lack of enthusiasm. My English teacher had assigned it as a summer reading book, and I suspected it to be like all the others. That is boring and filled with fluff. However, about half way through I realized that this book was something different. I was feeling both the joy and the pain that Le Ly experienced. And I was able to picture myself in the same situations she was putt in, and realized how horrible war was. I came out of this book with more than I came in. I came out with a profound knowlege of war based not on some fantasy character, but on the real life story of one poor little girl. Any one who wonders what war is like should read this book.
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By A Customer on 26 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
Written from a different point of view than most books about Vietnam. This is more than just a book about war. Le Ly is daring, resilient, hopeful, and entrepreneurial, on her journey from Vietnam to America and on to what she sees as her mission in life. This book is a real page-turner. Highly recommended
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Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful source for those who are interested in the Vietnam War. It is more common to focus on the American experience in war; not often are the horrible occurances that Vietnamese went through emphasized in course lectures and other talks. The only problem I found while reading this book is that so many terrible situations that Hayslip went through are emphasized that the reader begins to be desensitized to the trauma. However, this book is a wonderful portrayal of one of the strongest women I have ever heard of; her background and noble quest to "lose labels" and reach out and help the people of Vietnam, one of the poorest countries in the world, should be heard.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book was a wonderful companion during my recent trip in Viet-Nam. It helped me to understand more deeply the spirit of this people, their way of approaching life and to realize a bit all the suffering they went through and that love is really the only thing which matters.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating and well written insight into the experience of an intelligent woman from a village in Vietnam caught up in the Vietnam War of the 1960s and early 70s between the Communist/ North Vietnamese on one side and the anti-Communist `Republican'/ South Vietnamese and their American and other allies on the other, a war in which we can possibly say with hindsight that both sides were wrong.

This book was made into a film Heaven and Earth [DVD] [1994] directed by Oliver Stone. The film had neither commercial nor critical success on release but to me is actually one of Stone's best. Ideally see the film first, then read the book. The film changes some details and incidents but preserves the spirit of the book well.

Le Ly grows up in Central Vietnam, a region that has its own culture and identity but was partitioned between North and South Vietnam during the war period.

Her parents remembered the ruthless Japanese occupation in World War 2 and the war between the French colonialists and the Vietnamese Communist guerillas that followed. By the time Le Ly is old enough to understand what is going on the Americans and the South Vietnamese Republic have succeeded the French in fighting against the Vietnamese Communists for control of the country.

Most but not all villagers initially secretly sympathise with the Communists but some have cause to regret that later. It is dangerous to be seen to support either side, but also dangerous not to do so.
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