One of the few Vietnamese Army officers who also saw substantial service in Ho Chi Minhs National Liberation Army against the French, Tran Ngoc Chau made a momentous and difficult decision after five years with the Viet Minh he changed sides Although his brother Tran Ngoc Hien remained loyal to the North, Chaus Buddhist training and his disillusionment with aspects of the communists philosophies led him to throw his support to the nationalists and assist the Americans It was a decision that would cost him dearly when former military school colleague Nguyen Van Thieu, fearing a political rivalry, imprisoned Chauby then a lieutenant colonel and the Secretary General of the National Assemblys Lower Housedespite popular sentiment and the support of Americans like John Paul Vann and Daniel Ellsberg At every turn Chau stood on principle, however, opposing government corruption, refusing favoritism, and remaining steadfast in his dedication to democracy His principles would cost him again when, after the fall of Saigon, he was imprisoned in a North Vietnamese re education camp and even after release kept under continuous surveillance His detailed memoir reveals an astute understanding of the Vietnamese political situation and national culture that failed to register with U.S leadersand offers valuable insights into how to cope with similar conflicts in the future As Ellsberg has put it, Vietnam Labyrinth is unmatched, both for its narrative and for lessons to be learned for our current interventions....
|Title||:||Vietnam Labyrinth: Allies, Enemies, and Why the U.S. Lost the War (Modern Southeast Asia Series)|
|Publisher||:||Texas Tech University Press 1 edition 2012|
|Number of Pages||:||480 pages|
|File Size||:||967 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Vietnam Labyrinth: Allies, Enemies, and Why the U.S. Lost the War (Modern Southeast Asia Series) Reviews
Tran Ngoc Chau's Vietnam Labyrinth has to be ranked among the top three to four `must read' book on the Vietnam. The few works on Vietnam authored by persons with his background, experience and qualifications tend to be limited to bookstores catering to the Vietnamese diaspora press. Chau's is unique, first because it is written in English, and second because its author incarnates the opinions and outlook of a lifelong Vietnamese nationalist. Like the great majority of leaders from all sides, he was the educated son of a traditional mandarin family: The very class that colonialism and its attendant modernity rendered redundant, replaced by a newer class of middle managers seen by the nationalists as venal lackeys.
I am just past halfway through this book and decided to add my two cents. The above reviewers give the basic storyline so I won't expand on that much. I will say that the prose flows well and is not hard to follow--except for the multitude of Vietnamese names one encounters. The narrative moves forward in chronological order. Chau seems quite honest about his personal feelings, even to cover an "almost" love affair with a female Viet Min militant he got to know early on. He does not alibi but just presents the facts as he knows and experienced them. This man held a great many different posts along the way. He met a great many of the important players, especially since being on close terms with the doomed President Diem. He admits liking Diem, but understands his faults and ultimate fate. The print is small and this is not a short read. However the chapters come in small units, each of which has a descriptive title so you know generally what will be discussed. There are a few photos in the middle. I would have liked more of them, but that is nitpicking. This is non-agenda driven history of a very controversial war and well worth the time.
This book offers a perspective on the Vietnam War that is somewhat different than the so-called conventional wisdom on the topic. However, that does not make it any more enlightened than what other authors, American or Vietnamese, have tried to convey in similar writings.
Chau writes impartially and uses copious facts to base his analysis. His account of first working for the National Liberation Front and later for the South Vietnamese regime, and still later being rejected and joining the refugees - is thoroughly absorbing. His account and conclusions square very well with my own, having been part of the CORDS pacification program in Vietnam from 1967 through 1970. I recommend this book to those who wish to understand the Vietnam War and American involvement in it.