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LIVING FOR A HIGHER PURPOSE

STORY OF A CITY BOY WHO SURVIVED THE VIET NAM WAR BY LIVING FOR JESUS AND OTHERS

A powerful story of overcoming adversity and finding religion.

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In Vu’s (Lord Jesus, I Want to See…, 2017) biography, a young man flees Communist Vietnam and finds solace in his Christian faith.

Viet grew up in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood, not far from bustling Saigon, which was initially untouched by the disturbances brought to the country by war. But then the bombing campaigns eventually arrived and food rationing became a necessity. Viet’s family, in dire straits, was forced to butcher their beloved dog for food, and to burn paper money for fuel with which to cook. But even after the war concluded, their troubles persisted as the tyrannical Communist regime exacted vengeance upon people who collaborated with the government in the south. When Viet was 5 years old, his father was sent to a labor camp, where he languished under woeful conditions for 12 years. By Viet’s sophomore year in high school, he realized that he would never get full access to educational opportunities, so his parents plotted his escape. Several times, he tried unsuccessfully to flee Vietnam, and once, he ended up in prison. Finally, he was able to find his way out by boat; he survived the threat of pirates and was almost reduced to cannibalism to survive. He was rescued by a South Korean tanker, however, and made his way to Singapore, and then to the United States. There, he was able not only to pursue a college education, but also devote himself to his spiritual life—he eventually became a Catholic priest. Vu’s prose is lucid and unadorned by literary embellishment. Viet’s story is a remarkable one, and it will be impossible for readers not to be gripped by his relentless perseverance. Even more impressively, his spirits rarely seem to sag, no matter what misfortune visits him, and the crux of the tale is not his travails, but the consolations that he finds in his religious faith. Although this is principally a personal remembrance, it also provides a historically fascinating peek into postwar Vietnam; even though the United States was able to eventually extricate itself from the war in 1975, Vietnam’s plight was only just beginning.

A powerful story of overcoming adversity and finding religion.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4575-5816-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2018

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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