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How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy

by Andrea Warren

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2004
ISBN: 0-374-32224-4
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The final frantic days of the Vietnam War are recalled through the experiences of one Amerasian orphan. Warren, a skilled documentarian, recounts the story of Long’s life, from his birth and early childhood, shadowed by his father’s abandonment and his mother’s suicide, to boyhood in Saigon with his loving but struggling grandmother. It is his grandmother who makes the agonizing decision to put him up for adoption, a decision that poises Long, age 9, for a dramatic rescue in Operation Babylift, the US-coordinated effort that evacuated over 2,000 children from Saigon in the space of three days in 1975. Lavishly illustrated with archival photographs, the narrative is interspersed with just the right amount of war history, never losing the focus on Long and his experiences and ratcheting up the emotional intensity as he lifts off from Vietnam and lands in Chicago. A prefatory note explains that conversations have been “reconstructed . . . from the memories of [eye]witnesses,” with the caveat that those memories may not always be completely accurate. Appendices include multimedia resources for further research and a bibliographic essay on sources. (Nonfiction. 10+)