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A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath Paperback – March 12, 1986


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A Vietcong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath + Vietnam: A History + The Things They Carried
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (March 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394743091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394743097
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tang, a founding member of the Vietcong who now lives in exile in Paris, charges that a national democratic revolution in South Vietnam was made impossible both by North Vietnamese Communist Party ideologues and the U.S. militarization of the conflict at the expense of a political settlement. PW called this political memoir a "thoughtful and tragic account of the Vietnam War."
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Beautifully written." -- William Shawcross, front page, Washington Post Book World



"By showing the nature and hidden strength of our opponents, this account goes a long way toward explaining why America failed in Vietnam despite its greatly superior military power. But A Vietcong Memoir is more than just an exposition of the revolutionaries' side of the war. It is also an absorbing and moving autobiography...An important addition not only to the literature of Vietnam but to the larger human story of hope, violence and disillusion in the political life of our era."

-- Arnold R. Isaacs, Chicago Tribune

"Literate, mercifully free of the stridencies and banalities that characterize the Communists' agitprop prose. The prose gives off an aura of authenticity and reasonableness."

-- Robert Manning, The New York Times Book Review

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Customer Reviews

A great read for any history buff.
larry benjamin
Dismayed at the heavy-handed approach of the Viet Cong, the economic incompetence and the eventual communist enslavement of Vietnam, Mr. Tang defects to the West.
Grifter
Secondly, I enjoyed the author's personal story.
M. Dawson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on December 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
" A Viet Cong Memoir" is an intriguing historical account of the "other side" of the Vietnam War. Mr. Truong was a member of the National Liberation Front, as opposed to an actual military guerilla. The media always referred to the NLF as "the political arm of the Viet Cong". That always struck me as a dark, typical Vietnam type mystery. With "VCM", the NLF has a human face to go with the mystery. Right from the outset, any Vietnam vet as myself must take a story told by a VC with several grains of salt! Mr. Troung is beyond a doubt engaging in a bit of revisionist history, painting the indigenous (Southern) Vietnamese NLF in a fairer light than the more taciturn, hard core Communist Northern invaders. (...) A decent awareness of the conflict is needed to fully appreciate the book. With all these constraints aside, "VCM" rates as 5 star history. This should be required reading for serious students of the War, almost on a par with Bernard Fall's epic "Street Without Joy". The reasons are many: Troung is an excellent writer, both at once engagingly formal yet abidingly down to earth. Well educated, well connected and intelligent, he was involved with the NLF from the early 1950s-the French era of the War. The reader senses Troung's commitment to Ho Chi Minh's cause right from the time he meets "Uncle Ho" as a student in Paris. I believe that he believed in Ho's aphorisms- "liberty sweet liberty", "victory great victory", etc. Since Troung was not a jungle guerilla, the military side of the conflict is not emphasized here. Four major aspects of the War are mentioned; these are the book's strengths. 1) The reader will understand how the nation of South Vietnam ran and eventually disintegrated. The author paints a grim picture of a string of venal, petty and authoritative Saigon regimes.Read more ›
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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Charles Jones on December 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
America's defeat in the Vietnam war was to me a bitter experience. And although I am not given to 'enthusiasms', I believe that the author and his translators have produced a remarkably significant book. The author is a man of intelligence, strength, sensitivity and integrity and he provides insights at many levels. Thru his eyes we see the importance of personal and family connections in Vietnamese society. We witness Ho Chi Minh's magnetic personality and galvanizing importance. We see how difficult it is for left humanist liberals to keep their ideals when they side with communists and, by implication, how hard it is for anti-communists to distinguish left liberals from communists. We see how for many patriotic South Vietnamese, southern nationalist feeling found no outlet with the Western allies and got channeled to the communist side. We are given an insider account of how highly placed individuals such as the author and his friends worked to undermine resistance to the Vietcong and subvert institutions from within. There is a harrowing account of the author's time in prison, his torture and isolation. The book has many photographs of sincere and intelligent people who worked so hard for communist victory. We learn about political organizing, front groups that co-opt the non-communist opposition, transport along the Ho Chi Minh trail, the layout of jungle headquarters, and instructions on how to make a campfire with no smoke. The terror and destructiveness of B-52 raids is made clear as is the usefulness of the Vietcong's early warning network and their evasion tactics. And that's just in the first part of the book. The writing has a casual, easy to read quality. The reader can take away a variety of 'lessons' depending on the opinions and convictions he brings to the book. But the author's honesty and understated directness will have a big impact.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By TG Smith on July 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
It would seem that some of the negative reviews here result from the reviewer's preconceived notions about the War not meshing with the history presented in this book.
But it is precisely the way in which this book challenges our notions about the war that makes the text so great. For example, the author illustrates how much of the ideology that fueled the fight against the French and the Americans came from the French ideals of nationalism and liberty. Communism was seen as a convenient vehicle but not provide much in the ideology department.
The author also presents an image of the VC as being somewhat less than the fearless idealists that are presented in much Western media. Some Americans feel compelled to see them as pure and fearless in order to justify our loss to them. But the author describes many instances where the VC avoided engagement with the enemy or lost bodily control during attacks.
Another unexpected revelation was that, at the highest levels, the Vietnamese leadership seriously questioned the country's falling into the Soviet sphere of influence. What was the point, they asked, of fighting off one neo-colonialist just to replace it with another? This is the first book (or article, for that matter) to dispel so many of the fundamental myths that have held about the war.
In following the story line and characters, it certainly helps to be familiar with the major players in both the North and South. But even without that basis of knowledge, this is an excellent book that tells a gripping tale while questioning our assumptions about the topic.
In addition to seriously challenging our "conventional wisdom" regarding the war, the book is full of the kind of subterfuge, close calls with security forces, late night police visits, narrow escapes and suspense that you could find in many of toady's spy novels. But in this case, it is all true.
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