A remarkable account of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.


A former American official recounts his efforts to save displaced Vietnamese refugees in this memoir.

On a Sunday morning in 1978, the Thai government was poised to drag a derelict fishing boat—the only home to 34 Vietnamese refugees who had fled the new Communist regime in their homeland—into international waters, where the boat would surely sink and drown all those onboard. Harpold (Jumping the Line, 2013), a U.S. official, was alerted to the action by a concerned doctor and rushed to the docks in an attempt to save the refugees. The people were victims of a humanitarian crisis with roots in the decadelong conflict between North and South Vietnam, in which the author, like hundreds of thousands of Americans, participated to varying degrees. Originally sent to Saigon in 1968 as a U.S. adviser to the paramilitary National Police Field Force, Harpold had a front-row view of the evolving impact of the war on the everyday lives of the country’s population—a group left vulnerable when American forces abandoned South Vietnam in 1975. In this book, the author recalls his experiences from the time he landed in Saigon to that day on the dock in Thailand 10 years later, telling not simply his own story, but also the tale of an entire generation of people caught up in a conflict much larger than themselves. Harpold writes in a sharp, often lyric prose that deftly captures the emotions and moods of his settings: “The air was warm….As darkness descended, the orange light from drifting parachute flares cast us in eerie shadows. We listened to the muffled crump of artillery in the distance, as South Vietnamese guns desultorily fired at the Viet Cong lurking in the mountains.” There are many Vietnam memoirs in the marketplace, but the author’s perspective—sandwiched midway between the civilian and military worlds, with a deep empathy toward the locals with whom he worked—is refreshingly less American-centric than the average book on the conflict. Of even more interest is that it presses past the war and explores the succeeding years, a rarely discussed period that was, in some ways, even more dire than the conflict itself.

A remarkable account of the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

Pub Date: May 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-945271-68-7

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Book Publishers Network

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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