Peace and Prisoners of War: A South Vietnamese Memoir of the Vietnam War (Paperback)
American discussions of the Vietnam War tend to gloss over the period from 1972 to the final North Vietnamese offensive in 1975. But on the battlefields, these were brutal times for America's South Vietnamese allies combined with a period of intense diplomatic negotiations conducted under the increasing reality that America had abandoned them. In Peace and Prisoners of War, written in real-time as events occurred, Phan Nhat Nam provides a unique window into the harsh combat that followed America's withdrawal and the hopelessness of South Vietnam's attempt to stave off an eventual communist victory. Few others could have written this book. Phan Nhat Nam saw the war for years as a combat soldier in one of South Vietnam's most respected airborne divisions, then as the country's most respected war reporter, and for fourteen years after the war as a prisoner in Hanoi's infamous re-education camps, including eight years in solitary confinement. In the war's aftermath anonymity became his fate both inside Vietnam and here in America. But now one of his important works is available, enhanced by an introduction by Senator James Webb, one of the most decorated Marines in the Vietnam War. Webb describes this revealing work as an unvarnished observation frozen in time, devoid of spin or false retrospective wisdom. Phan's reporting makes clear the sense of doom that foretold the tragic events to come, on the battlefields and in the frustration of negotiating with an implacable enemy while abandoned by its foremost ally. Readers will find this book both enlightening and disturbing, its observations until now overlooked in most histories of the Vietnam War.
Phan Nhat Nam is a soldier, a renowned writer, and a political commentator. A graduate of Da Lat, South Vietnam's equivalent of West Point, during the Vietnam War he served for eight years as a soldier in the Red Berets, South Vietnam's elite airborne division and after that became the country's most well-known war reporter. Following the Communist takeover in 1975, he was imprisoned in Hanoi's infamous re-education camps for fourteen years, eight years of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was allowed to emigrate to the United States in 1993 under the Orderly Departure Program, and has continued to write and speak about the war and its continuing aftermath, remaining one of the most influential voices in the worldwide overseas Vietnamese community. For his combat service as a Marine Corps rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam James Webb was awarded the Navy Cross, Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals and two Purple Hearts. He is the author of ten books, including the classic Vietnam novel Fields of Fire, and has widely traveled as a journalist, receiving a National Emmy for his 1983 TV coverage of the Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, and as an embedded journalist in Afghanistan in 2004. In government he served as a full committee counsel in the House of Representatives, as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration, and as a U.S. Senator from Virginia.