" Saigon "

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Steve G, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    (Moddies? If this'd fit better under Post WW2? Do it! ;))

    'Graham Green', or some other spelling that sounds the same. Who cares? It was definitely one of the most awesome books I've ever read.

    My brother slung me this title, along with a bunch of books he'd picked out at a 'car boot sale' sort of affair. Maybe I was laid up or something? He just figured I could use some reading material and picked me up a little stack of paper backs.

    'Saigon'. I barely knew what it 'meant'. It rang some distant bell about 'Viet Nam'. Ok. I had nothing else to do. I'd read about " Viet Nam " ..... I'd just finished two other books. This one was simply next in a random pile.

    And what do I find myself reading about? Some 'Deep South Gentleman' type, on board a bloody " Mississippi Queen " type paddle steamer?! WTF? And, sticking with it, they're talking of " French Indo China " ?! Royal Crown Derby China was more up my street!

    Blah, blah, blah ..... And there's some French officer chappie, proudly explaining how 'This place is unassailable! Christ; Unless they could physically drag artillary up those damn mountains? No Way can they get at us up ..... " (Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! BOOM!!!) And it's goodnight from him. All hell lets loose. And I'm completely hooked! :huh:

    Down the years, of course, I've forgotten the place names and dates. But that book taught me more about " 'Nam ", start to finish, than Anything else in my entire lifes experience. The Tet Offensive? Read about it. Pinkville Massacre? I saw the original photo's. Here was some subtext. That famous chopper, on top of the building? Understood!

    In fact, just about the vast majority of what I feel I have a handle on, about the Viet Nam conflict, I gained from reading " Saigon ". It's always given me a handle on so much else I've since been able to garner from parousing the net. (I read the book before I knew what a " Computer " was).

    There. Just wanted to get that one off my chest. It's Drews fault. He set me off with his own post: http://www.ww2talk.com/forum/postwar/16881-vietnam-videos.html ;)

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I think every now and then you come across a book that has a profound effect on you. I'm not a bigger reader (I have to force myself to start a new book) but one that springs in my mind is 'No Drums, No Trumpets'.

    I can't say I've read any books on Vietnam although I have two staring at me from my book shelf called 'Snake Pilot' and 'The Cage'. I will one day get around to reading them.

    I recall several people telling me to read a book called 'Chickenhawk' from Vietnam. I assume this must be a good read because so rarely do I get recomendations for the same book from different people.

  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Moved to post-war.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I recall several people telling me to read a book called 'Chickenhawk' from Vietnam.

    READ IT!
    Read it in late 1980s, superb book.
    Also liked The 13th Valley by John M. Del Vecchio

    Steve is this the book you mean?
    Saigon: Anthony Grey: Amazon.co.uk: Books

    Grey's 800-page chronicle of Vietnam, 1925-1975, turns rich, complex history into a contrived, soap-operatic family saga -
    heavy on coincidental meetings, doomed romance, illegitimate babies, and long-lost children. In the 1920s, teenager Joseph Sherman visits Vietnam with his hunting US Senator father, immediately reacting against colonial injustices as he meets: French official Devraux (who sleeps with Joseph's mother); the native-aristocratic, collaborateur Tran family; and Devraux servant Ngo Van Loc, a secretly revolutionary peasant. So, over the decades, Sherman (and kin) will return to Saigon again and again - always getting fatefully involved with these three other clans. In 1936 he'll come as a scholar, fall in hopeless love with Tran daughter Lan (who's betrothed to young Devraux), and make contact with much-tortured guerrilla Loc - whose wife and son have died for the nationalist cause. During WW II pilot Sherman will be shot down over Indochina, winding up in the care of Lan's in-law Dao Van Lat - a fanatic, European-educated rebel who introduces Sherman to the charismatic Ho Chi Minh (a wartime ally against the Japanese): Ho later dupes OSS-man Sherman into helping to legitimate his end-of-war coup; Sherman learns that Lan bore his child, Tuyet (they rescue her from rural famine); Sherman rails against the postwar restoration of colonialism in the south. ("It's a goddamned betrayal of everything Western democracy is supposed to stand for!") In 1954 journalist Sherman is on hand for Dien Bien Phu - and the killing of Lan's husband Devraux by Loc's son Ngo Van Dong (Lan will die too, alas). Then, from the 1960s on, other Shermans appear in Vietnam with near-comic regularity: Joseph's kid brother Guy is a Saigon CIA agent who'll tacitly abet the Nhu coup and die in a grenade clinch with yet another Ngo-family rebel; soldier-son Gary will die trying to prevent My Lai-style excesses by his comrades; soldier-son Mark will be a POW (who happens to be in the custody of Lan's brother Kim!); daughter Tuyet will become a Viet Cong killer. And in 1975, after writing "the bible of the antiwar movement," Sherman will head for Vietnam one last time - to rescue his grand-daughter.
  5. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    :lol: That's the one, Owen! And what on earth do ye think Grey must have done to have So evoked the bile of Kirkus US? o_O I think we can hear the grinding of an axe there!

    Interestingly, their UK branch say,

    " a high octane blockbuster that powers its way to the cliffhanging finale. This skilful blend of fact and fiction is a major work of epic proportions that will leave you breathless with admiration at the scope and texture of the author's vision. "

    Five out of six readers reviews give it 5/5. Sixth gives it 4/5. At least two or three say it's the best book they've ever read. One, obviously deeply pissed off Yank drones on and on in a sarcastic effort to destroy the book? What ever. I, like the impartial rest, loved it :)

    Looks like " Chickenhawk " is getting good reviews here too, eh? Hmmm ..... Oh, yeah. Just been looking at the write ups. Damn; Looks like I'm going to be reading Another book! Cheers for the heads up, guys!
  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    God, now I'm being taken back!! Read Chickenhawk too and its fabulous. Another book worth reading about the Vietnam war is "A Bright Shining Lie", great book.

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