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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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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