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Customer Review

100 of 121 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A piece of biography interweaved with lots of fiction, November 15, 1999
This review is from: When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (Tie-In Edition) (Paperback)
I visited the village of Binh Ky (Ky La) in mid 1969 while escorting a road sweep with members of Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. I was about to leave country, having served 18 months on an extended tour with the Navy Hospital at the Marble Mountains, NSA Station Hospital. I am very familiar with this area.
Though I don't doubt that Hayslip may be from Binh Ky (I have been back and seen her family tomb in the dirt poor hamlet), I do know that a good deal of what she tells in this book is pure fiction.
1. Da Nang City was off limits to U. S. personnel from mid-1966 until the U. S. pulled out. There were no clubs to go to, no strip joints. All clubs were on bases. No one walked on the streets or lived in apartments in Da Nang. Those who worked there were transported there from their bases. All her stories about working in strip clubs frequented by Americans in Da Nang or meeting GIs prowling the streets are lies.
2. There were no U. S. personnel working at the civilian hospital in downtown Da Nang, as she claimed her lover Red did. I know, as I went to that hospital numerous times carrying wounded or sick Vietnamese civilians in our ambulances, and I toured the hospital several times. It was mostly open bay buildings with two or three to a bed, the families moving in beside the patients to cook for them while farm animals wandered around the facilities. Red is a purely fictitious character. As I stated earlier, no U. S. military personnel lived in apartments in Da Nang. There were some compounds where Americans lived, but they were guarded by Chinese mercenaries or other non-Vietnamese troops and you wouldn't just walk up and knock on the door of one of them. In her later book, Child of War, Woman of Peace, this facility becomes a Navy hospital in Da Nang. I was at the only Naval hospital in the entire I Corps, and it was at the Marble Mountains, not in Da Nang. There were barracks there, not apartments, and civilians were not allowed to visit them. And there was no Vietnamese guard at the "front door" or anywhere else on this compound. It was guarded by American Marines. This whole episode is pure fiction.
3. Hayslip claims to have traveled from Da Nang to the Marble Mountains twice, on foot, at night. This is not likely, given that the only way to get there involves crossing a river, the Song Han. The two bridges across the Han were guarded by Americans and no civilians crossed at night. There was a curfew in Da Nang. Boat travel was subject to artillery fire, monitored from the top of what called the Crow's nest, one of the Marble Mountains facing Binh Ky.
4. She claims her sister had an apartment at the Marble Mountains where Americans visited. I have film footage and still shots of this area and there are no apartments there, let alone one with a common indoor bathroom as she claims. In fact, the houses were all one story structures, almost exclusively shacks. This is another pernicious lie in which she paints an unflattering picture of Americans.
It is not clear why she has added so much fiction to this account, but my guess is that otherwise it would be very dull. All of the nonsense she has added is very disparaging to Americans, which could also be a reason for their addition.
These lies make me wonder how much of the rest of her tale is true. Her credibility is low for me. I corresponded with her briefly on the internet, but after I asked her to tell me how she got from Da Nang to the Marble Mountains by foot she stopped responding.
Nonetheless, it is a great read, but must be taken with a very healthy grain of salt.
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 8, 2010 8:29:03 AM PST
thundercloud says:
I have never been to Nam but I like your review. In the past I have read books and news articles about places I know and events I have had experience with. When I see things reported as fact that I know to be fiction I too doubt the truth of the whole story. These fictions continue to be stuck in my mind years later and have made me skeptical of the media at large. As far as I'm concerned the media is more entertainment oriented than actual fact driven news.

I enjoy reviews such as these where the truth comes out. Not all reviews are truthful but in my opinion yours is. I'll not be buying this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 9, 2013 2:36:14 PM PST
Thanks for your perspective and service. I have also never been to Viet Nam, but many older cousins/friends served there. Have read many books on the war - memoirs, history, novels - mostly from our perspective. Lately, I've started reading books written by Vietnamese, currently "Novel Without A Name." It's intriguing to mix the views of the same battles as well as the experience.

I have a several books on WWII in The Pacific that I'm heading to read next. My Dad, a veteran of Guam, will be 90 next month and is ailing. I can never ask him enough questions, there is little written about the Battle for Guam, but I hear untold stories when I find out something new about Guam.

Thanks for the factual details. Novels are fiction, history is fact. One should not be mistaken for the other.

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 2:23:32 PM PST
Have you contacted the author and discussed your points with her ?

Posted on May 11, 2014 10:45:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 11, 2014 10:52:33 PM PDT
Not so, James. When the Americal Division stood down for good in November of 1971, and the 196th Light Infantry Brigade (a remnant) moved up to Danang from Fire Base Fat City (north of Chu Lai) Danang was opened up to G.I.s for several months, although I cannot recall exactly for how long.

You can without reservation call the author a liar and I can with all honesty say that every U.S. Marine I've ever met, including my own countrymen, have been as dumb as bricks.

Richard Vidaurri
Guadalajara, Mexico
Americal Division & 196th Light Infantry Brigade
The U.S. Army in Vietnam 1970-72
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