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The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon Hardcover – February 13, 2002


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The Twenty-Five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon + A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath + When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (Tie-In Edition)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: University of North Texas Press; 1st edition (February 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574411438
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574411430
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This valuable memoir of the Indochina War, 1950-75, by a former South Vietnamese general takes its title from the fact that, for him and his generation, the most important events of the twentieth century were packed into that period. An upper-class Vietnamese, Thi was one of the first Vietnamese to receive a French commission. During the late '50s, he received training in the U.S., on which his insights are particularly interesting. He rose rapidly through staff and command positions during 1963-75. Polite but explicit about the deficiencies he encountered among his fellow Vietnamese and among their Western supporters, he never goes overboard into the "How we might have won" syndrome. He is also too polite to be explicit about how the South Vietnamese army's former friends and former foes alike completely ignored it in the postwar period, and that makes his memoir valuably unusual. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“General Lam Quang Thi is respected among his countrymen, his soldiers, and his American counterparts. The Twenty-five Year Century reflects the experience of the brave men and women who served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It is the genuine voice of those who fought for freedom.”--Yung Krall, author of A Thousand Tears Falling
 
“Readers will find in this book a new perspective on the War in Vietnam from one who helped to create and shape the history. His story—the story of the Republic of Vietnam from the eyes of those in the Republic—has been long neglected by historians of the period.”--Ron Frankum, The Vietnam Archive, Texas Tech University
 
The Twenty-five Year Century is extremely interesting and most professionally written. It provides a rare and most valuable insight into the war from the perspective of a senior field commander fighting it. It is a major contribution to the literature of the Vietnam conflict, and fills a void in the war’s recorded history that can only be filled by the experiences of someone of Thi’s rank and stature.”--Col. Edward P. Metzner, U.S. Army (ret.), author of More Than a Soldier's War
 
“General Thi fought for twenty-five years in Vietnam until Saigon fell in 1975, serving with the Vietnamese National Army and commanding the Army Corps Task Force along the Demilitarized Zone. Here he provides a rare and valuable insight into the Vietnam War. Thi strongly counters the prevailing ‘American’ view that the Republic of Vietnam’s government and military were hopelessly corrupt and ineffective. Not everyone will agree with General Thi’s viewpoint, but everyone will have to factor it into his own analysis of the Vietnam War.”--John Carroll, Regents Professor of History, Lamar University


"Thi's vivid, first-hand account describes the tragic events that led to the loss of Quang Tri, Hue, the fall of Da Nang, and the subsequent surrender of South Vietnam. . . . Thi is also brutally frank in his assessment of South Vietnam's fall, but he does not fall into the 'how we might have won' syndrome. He lays part of the blame on America's failure to provide promised support, but he also acknowledges South Vietnam's shortcomings, which contributed to the defeat."--James H. Willbanks, Military Review


"[H]is narrative is a stunning portrayal of the gradual collapse of South Vietnam . . . replete with tales of heroism, treachery, and political intrigue and corruption. . . . [T]his is a must-read book. Lam Quang Thi has provided a powerful and detailed map of a road to disaster, which should be particularly enlightening to Americans who got off the bus before it went off the cliff."--Proceedings


"Not the least of this book's virtues is to remind a largely uncomprehending Western readership of the protracted experience of war that was the lot of many Vietnamese whose allegiance lay with the anti-Communist side in a long revolutionary war. . . . While praising the relationship between Americans and Vietnamese in the field, especially the US 'counterparts', he has some sharp things to say about American ethnocentrism and arrogance towards senior Vietnamese officers and officials. . . . [I]t's straightforward, self-effacing style should appeal to a general readership."--H-War/H-Net Book Review


"General Thi strongly criticized the American strategy of 'graduated response' as well as the 'enclave' concept that failed to win the enemy guerrilla warfare. According to him, the American Army forgot that 'the most important factor in a war is man, not technology, and victory requires traditional leadership, not bureaucratic management.'"--Vietquoc.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Asian American History Buff on April 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
General Thi shares with us the major events of his life, from losing his father at an early age to the Viet Minh, to how his Uncles and Aunts were so instrumental in providing the Extended Family (Confucian) Values that enabled Lam and his brother to pull themselves up by their hard work and many accomplishments in school and later in their adult life.
We see through Lam's eyes the French Occupation of Vietnam, the reasons for the Viet Minh, the Fall of the French, the coming of the Americans, Lam's Army Career and how he so skillfully plays the hand Life has given him, making the best of what he has, leading all the way to making ARVN Lt. General (Three Star General) at such an early age through his sheer abilities and hard work.
The book also allows the Reader to see and experience Vietnamese Culture, from Tet (Chinese New Year), the tasty foods (I still can smell the Cha Gio) cooked in celebration of their various Holidays and Occations, to Confucian Extended Family Values of Respect for Elders and a High Premium on Education as the way to get ahead in Life, and how even later on in their lives when he outranks his Older Brother (who was "only" a Two Star General) that Older Brother still made the Final Decision and was obeyed when it came to Family Matters.
For those of you who did not know, Vietnamese Wives and Mothers, while seemingly docile and obedient, were actually Very Powerful when it came to Family Matters of Finance and Children. Vietnamese Family Values were demonstrated as we watch Lam and his Family when they get to visit with Emperor Bao Dai's Mother, and her demonstrated tenderness towards Children.
An excellent example of what one Vietnamese Life was like from 1950 to 1975, and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BasinBictory on January 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I was intrigued by the prospect of reading a memoir from the point of view of a South Vietnamese soldier. Although Gen. Lam Quang Thi was a very high-ranking member of the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and attained high rank at a young age, I got the impression that he was one of the truly gifted officers in that army, who was idealistic about serving his country to the best of his abilities.
Throughout the book, Thi regularly takes issue with the corruption and incompetence of many of his fellow officers, and recounts the political situation in the South, where coup after coup after coup left the country of South Vietnam basically a rudderless ship. He tells of how many of his fellow officers attained high ranks, up to and including senior generals, not because of superior soldiering prowess, but because of having the right political connections. Even he (the author) benefitted a little from the political machinations of some of his superiors. In this regard, the book is an excellent source on the socio-political scene in Saigon in the 1960's.
However, as a war memoir, I found the book a little light in descriptions of battle and how he and the men under his command coped with the strain of combat. This is why I give the book only four stars. I suppose that as a general, his viewpoints of battle tend to be more detached and "big picture" oriented, which is reflected in his writing. Most descriptions of battles his units fought were mostly like, "We swept the area with the 1st regiment, while the 2nd was held in reserve. After heavy contact, we suffered 25 dead while the VC suffered 100 dead." None of the harrowing descriptions which can be found in many other terrific war memoirs are present here.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gary Mason on June 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I served on the MACV Advisory Team (60) attached to the ARVN 9th I. D. as a radio operator from Dec. 1965 - Jan. 1968, and after reading through General Thi's book I was impressed with the situations as described from his perspective. I also recall that many U. S. officers expressed favorable impressions of the General, his leadership and patriotism. A good read for those of us who were in Sadec. Gary Mason
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was so pleased to get this book today that it went right to the top of my reading pile and I spent the afternoon and evening with it. I lived in Viet-Nam from 1963-1967, going through ten coups d'etat as the son of an oil engineer and executive, and Viet-Nam has always been special for me.

Sadly, the book, while full of extraordinary detail at a personal level, is extremely tedious. It *felt* like it took a century to read, and my eyes just glazed over with page after page of names of relatives, classmates, town, etcetera.

The author's first book, Autopsy: The Death of South Viet Nam is probably a much better book for anyone other than a student of the genealogical details.

The photos were disappointing, and while the strategic maps were helpful there was little to enliven the thirteen chapters.

Over-all I formed three impressions:

1) The author was an extraordinary mix of Chinese and Vietnamese, French-educated, and Cao Dai/Catholic in family heritage. He acquired the viewpoints inherent in the French and the Catholic, and strongly perceives Ho Chi Minh to have been a communist puppet of Moscow, and not at all a nationalist. Th

2) The author considers the US to have betrayed South Viet-Nam, leading to the loss of a one million man Army and the abandonment of five billion dollars in equipment, all in part because the US media decided the war was lost, and the US public forced the politicians to give up.
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