ECHOES OF THE MEKONG by Peter A. & Nguyen Thi Lung Huchthausen

ECHOES OF THE MEKONG

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A small gem of a dual memoir in which a former US Navy riverboat commander and a young Vietnamese woman tell amazing, intersecting tales of war and peace. Huchthausen went to Vietnam in 1967, five years after graduating from the US Naval Academy. There he commanded a patrol riverboat on the Mekong River before, during, and after the cataclysmic Tet Offensive of 1968. It was an often harrowing tour of duty, but also one in which Huchthausen gained an appreciation for the Vietnamese people. The person he came to admire most was a ten-year-old girl, Nguyen Thi Lung, whose life he and his crewmen saved after she was severely wounded. Following her recovery, Huchthausen and several other Navy men adopted the little girl, paying for her rehabilitation and schooling. But when Huchthausen was transferred to another assignment, he lost touch with Ngnyen. Seventeen years later, after years of desperate hardship and through an almost miraculous series of events, Nguyen was able to contact Huchthausen. In 1985 Nguyen was allowed to emigrate under Huchthausen's sponsorship to the US, where she lives today with her daughter. The ex-Navy man and the former peasant girl tell their truth-is-stranger-than-fiction stories extremely well in alternating voices. Huchthausen's portion relates a tale familiar to American readers of veteranpenned Vietnam war memoirs: an in-country war story with plenty of action. Ngnyen's tale is less familiar but more instructive to American audiences. Her simple sentences beautifully evoke the everyday realities of Mekong Delta village life and the fearful times she was forced to endure after the North Vietnamese victory in 1975. An uplifting human story with a deservedly happy ending.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1996
Page count: 152pp
Publisher: Nautical & Aviation