'Vietnam': A Portrait of its People at War

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David Chanoff;Doan Van Toai

The American experience during the Vietnam conflict is universally known: the brutalisation 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 twentieth-century oral history-- now available in paperback for the first time-- 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. Constructed as a series of interviews, this book 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 a terrifying war.

Those featured in the book describe aspects of the war: the murderous trek down the Ho Chi Minh trail, the self-immolation of Buddhist monks, the methods of Vietcong assassination teams and life under attack from American bombs and napalm. Taken as a whole, the accounts provide a rare insight into the thinking of the 'other side.'