Archive for the Books Category

Communists Are Afraid of Books, Arrest Phuong Uyen Again for Holding One

Posted in Books, Democracy Activists, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2015 by Ian Pham

Phuong Uyen Holding BookPhoto via Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo

As comical as that headline may be, one might find it even more comical, and sad, that it’s actually true.

If you recall, Nguyen Phuong Uyen is the feisty and highly intelligent young democracy activist who, in 2013, was arrested by the Communist Party for speaking out against the VCP’s despotic, corrupt, and cowardly governance. One of my favorite messages from her was, “Đi chết đi, DCS VN bán nước,” which roughly translates to, “Kill yourselves, treasonous Vietnamese Communist Party.” She was released in August of 2013 due to international pressure, but was still terrorized by the Party thereafter. Well, she is still here, she is still fighting the commies, and she is bolder than ever.

Just over a week ago, the young activist and former prisoner of conscience Phuong Uyen met up with a few friends at a café somewhere in Saigon. In her possession was a newly published book titled Ước Mơ Của Thủy, which translates to The Dreams of Thủy, or Thủy’s Dreams in English. The book is written by a young author, Ms. Le Viet Ky Nhi, with the preface written by Ms. Phuong Uyen herself. For her involvement with the book, as well as for simply having the book on her person, Phuong Uyen was arrested again by VCP police and held captive for several days.

Ước Mơ Của Thủy is a very important piece of literature that is causing quite a stir within the communist dictatorship system. In only 100 pages, the author Le Viet Ky Nhi is able to present some very powerful ideas that are more than scaring the shit out of the communists. Both historical and political, the author starts out by examining the long and deep history of the Viet people, before moving on to contemporary times, and how the country needs to change to rebuild itself.

Naturally, the communists view this as a threat, and have banned the book from circulation in Vietnam.

And so, on December 13, 2015, while meeting a few friends at Chieu coffee shop, and carrying the book in her bag, Nguyen Phuong Uyen was apprehended by a gang of communist policemen and hauled off to the police station. According to Dan Lam Bao, she was detained for two days and one night by the communist police. She is still being monitored and harassed by authorities after her release.

Keep fighting the good fight, Uyen.

You’re not alone.

DMCS.

Sources:

Dan Lam Bao (Collaborator), Dan Lam Bao (CTV), Dan Lam Bao (VRNs and translated by Ngu Ngoc), Tin Mung Cho Nguoi Ngheo, United Press International, Youtube (VanHoaNBLV1)

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This U.S. Marine’s Book “Ride The Thunder” Tells the True Story of the Vietnam War, Is Now a Major Motion Picture

Posted in Books, Modern History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Ian Pham

Ride The ThunderImage via Ride The Thunder Movie

Richard Botkin is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and the author of the groundbreaking history book Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph. He is also the executive producer of the new motion picture with the same name, debuting in theaters last March and kicking off its nationwide release just this past May. Both Botkin’s literary and theatrical works tell the story of the Vietnam War, as it should be told, describing the true valor and sacrifice of the South Vietnamese and American soldiers against the communist forces in Southeast Asia.

Serving in the USMC from 1980 to 1983 and then 12 years in the reserves, according to Tami Jackson, Botkin’s service “post-dates the Vietnam War.” However, despite this, “many of the men who mentored Rich Botkin, heroes he greatly admires, were Vietnam veterans.” As a result, Botkin has made it his mission to tell the true story of the Vietnam War, and “restore the rightful honor due those Americans and South Vietnamese who served there…”

Ride The Thunder BookImage via WND

Botkin accomplishes this endeavor first through the authoring of his book, Ride the Thunder, published on July 13, 2009, which tells the story of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States. As a source for Vietnam War research, Botkin’s 652-page book, in Jackson’s words, “is the culmination of 5 years of writing, 1 year of editing, 4 trips to Vietnam,” and “thousands of hours interviewing American and South Vietnamese Marines.”

According to Amazon, “Ride the Thunder reveals the heroic, untold story of how Vietnamese Marines and their US advisers fought valiantly, turning the tide of an unpopular war and actually winning – while Americans 8,000 miles away were being fed only one version of the story.” Goodreads declares that “Richard Botkin’s book provides a fresh, provocative look at the Vietnam War and the heroic warriors who fought it.”

Now, after four years of filmmaking, Richard Botkin’s next step in telling the true story of the war in Vietnam has finally reached fruition. “Ride The Thunder,” the new major motion picture, directed by Fred Koster, has made it to the big screen, enjoying a resoundingly successful premier this past March in Westminster, Southern California. The reception has been so incredibly positive and widespread that the film is currently being released nation-wide across the United States.

I have yet to see the movie, but am very much looking forward to it. The trailer for it looks absolutely amazing. I plan to post it here, too. It’s just so good that I think it deserves its own article, which will be up here in a couple days or so, possibly sooner. In the meantime, you can enjoy the trailer by following this link, and maybe make some weekend plans to go see the movie if it’s in your area.

I’m getting a little too excited for this.

Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

Annotated Bibliography: Gary Lester’s Book Review of “Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam” by Lam Quang Thi

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Photo, An Loc BattleImage via Amazon

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

Dr. Gary Lester’s review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam provides a concise and informative summary of former ARVN General Lam Quang Thi’s book. According to Lester, “Hell in An Loc is an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during its moment of great crisis in the spring of 1972…” It was then that the U.S. was steadily drawing down its forces in Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese built up their forces for an ambitious military operation to overrun South Vietnam.

In his review, Lester presents many insightful information from General Thi’s book, such as the details of North Vietnam’s 1972 Easter Offensive, a massive military campaign that was even larger than the Tet Offensive of 1968. The enemy’s “three-pronged” operation would find its way to the town of An Loc, where South Vietnam’s 5th Division, consisting of only 7,500 soldiers, confronted and repelled a 21,000-strong North Vietnamese onslaught.

Facing a massive invading force three times their size, the outnumbered ARVN forces incurred losses of 2,300 deaths, while dealing a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Army, who suffered a loss of 6,500 deaths at the hands of the South Vietnamese. The attack on An Loc lasted from April to August of 1972, ending with the successful defense of the town by the ARVN against the invading North. The ARVN forces were provided with powerful air support from their remaining U.S. allies, who, along with the South Vietnamese Air Force, dealt heavy damage to enemy tanks and artillery.

An important note that Lester pinpoints in his review is the valor and bravery displayed by the “too often voiceless” soldiers of South Vietnam, in a significant battle that was largely ignored by American media. An Loc’s omission from America’s news coverage is an important point acknowledged in Lester’s review, a vivid example of the media’s bias towards the Republic of Vietnam, and how the Southern point of view is methodically neglected and distorted by the majority of Western journalists. Lam Quang Thi’s account of the Battle of An Loc, in the words of Gary Lester, “is a testimony to the courage and bravery of the ARVN garrison at An Loc. The book tells the South Vietnamese side of the story and renders justice to the South Vietnamese soldiers who withstood ninety-four days of horror and prevailed.”

Reading Lester’s review alone, one gains great insight into the Battle of An Loc, as well as a clearer understanding of the Vietnam War, a hotly debated subject in which South Vietnam and the ARVN are almost always misrepresented.

A New Novel Aims to Rewrite History

Posted in Books, I. News, II. History, IV. Columns with tags , , on March 21, 2011 by Ian Pham

Here’s the latest case of historical desecration by the Vietnamese Communists with advice from foreigners.  A new historical novel, supposedly based on the lives of Le Loi and Nguyen Trai, was recently published in Vietnam.  The book aims to chronicle the events transpiring between the heroic duo as they take on the Ming invaders in the 15th century.  Unfortunately, the accuracy of the novel’s events are somewhat questionable.  Actually, it’s complete garbage, just to let you know.

The author of this novel, Nguyen Quang Than, completely disrespects the characters of Le Loi and Nguyen Trai, characterizing them as bandits, thugs, and gangsters.  At the same time, he portrays the Ming army as heroic individuals, coming into the country to help and care for the Vietnamese people.  The invaders are shown to be virtuous, honourable, civilized, and caring.  So according to this “author,” Le Loi and Nguyen Trai are the villains, while the Ming invaders are the heroes.

Signs of outrage have been visible within the Vietnamese literary community.  Many writers and bloggers in Vietnam have criticized the author of this book, making their opinions known.  What’s the Vietnamese government response to all this?  Unsurprisingly, they’ve decided to go against the writers in Vietnam in defence of the author of the book.  They’ve issued a warning, threatening to punish anyone who further criticizes the author Nguyen Quang Than and the Vietnamese government.

Why would they do this?  Why would any government ever allow anyone to damage the sacred historical protectors of their country?  Let us recall a similar incident, only several months ago, recall the movie Ly Cong Uan: the Road to Thang Long Citadel. The Chinese government tried to distort the history of Emperor Ly Thai To, making him look like a Chinese man, an act permitted by the Vietnamese Communist Party, remember that?  It’s happening again, and guess what, they’re letting it happen again.

Judging by the evidence, one can argue that the Chinese Communist Party has something to do with the creation of this book.  Who else would come up with the idea of destroying the memory of two of Vietnam’s proudest figures?  The story of Ly Cong Uan was indisputably the plan of the CCP, and it is a fair bet they are involved with this as well.  It’s not hard to find traitors in the Vietnamese Communist system, almost everyone at the height of the Politburo is a corrupted sell-out anyway.

It is easy for the Chinese government to infiltrate the Vietnamese Party, all they have to do is show the money.  The CCP has succeeded in finding traitors despicable enough to desecrate the memory of their own ancestors, and they are exploiting these mutinous dogs to the fullest extent.  Vietnam’s Communist government is full of cowards, traitors, and slaves, that is why they need to be punished by the true people of Vietnam.  The title of the novel is Hoi The (The Gathering of Oaths).  If you have the time, look it up.

Orwell’s Classic & Vietnam Today

Posted in Books, IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 22, 2010 by Ian Pham

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

– George Orwell

When George Orwell wrote the novel 1984, who could have predicted that the Party in his book would be a spitting image of the Communists in Vietnam and China today?  I’ve thought about this for a while, but never realized the incredible impact Orwell’s novel played in warning us of the evils of the Party.  This book was published in 1949, a time when Communism had not yet taken hold in Vietnam.  At this time, since China was till a young Communist country, the Soviet bloc was the only true Communist force.

Communism is a very secretive system, and back then, information on their activities were not widely understood.  Which brings me to my point: how did George Orwell, someone who never lived under a Communists regime, paint such a vivid picture of what such a regime was like?  In his novel, 1984, George Orwell successfully paints a picture of how devious and cruel the totalitarian dictators can be, long before the crimes of the real Communists were even known to the world.  From the way he told his story, George Orwell literally predicted the future.

If you have never read Orwell’s 1984, here is a quick summary.  Winston Smith, the main man of the story, lives in Oceania, one of three future empires perpetually at war with one another.  Oceania is run by a powerful political force simply known as The Party.  At the very top of The Party is Big Brother, a figure of unprecedented power who’s authority is rivaled by no one.  Everything inside of Oceania is controlled by the Party and Big Brother, nothing is out of their reach.  Through relentless surveillance, terror, and propaganda, the Party controls every aspect of the citizens lives.

The more Winston Smith thinks about it, the more he sees that something is not right.  As a government employee for the Ministry of Truth, the propaganda branch of the Party, Winston begins to ask questions.  Since the Party controls the flow of information, along with everything else, Winston finds himself trapped inside their system and is determined to find out the truth.  These questions eventually lead him on a path of rebellion against the Party, searching for others who share the same viewpoints as him.

This is by no way an easy task, since the government has implemented many elaborate techniques to crackdown and punish anyone who dares question the Party.  Any kind of political opposition is watched closely by the “Thought Police,” a special section of law enforcement who specializes in reading peoples’ thoughts through their actions and moods.  Surveillance cameras are set up in every corner of the country, keeping track of the peoples’ every move.

The Party tries to forcefully control the social order by implementing “Newspeak,” and “Doublethink,” psychological techniques that influences the way people act and speak.  Anyone who does not follow the regulations get severely punished by The Party.  Chillingly, a recurring event in 1984 are the sudden disappearances of characters who start questioning Big Brother and The Party.  At one moment they exist, but the next chapter they are just gone.

In Oceania, no one can be trusted.  The Party has secret spies planted everywhere throughout the state, anyone could sell you out.  Despite all this, Winston manages to find a certain few who support his cause.  One notable person by his side is named Julia, a beautiful woman who also hates The Party and wants to defy them as well.  Her relationship with Winston, complicated by the many twists and turns in Orwell’s classic, makes for an incredibly enjoyable read.  The uncertainty of their existence, mixed with the danger of opposing the totalitarian dictatorship of Big Brother and The Party, keeps us guessing all the way to the exciting conclusion.

So what does all this have to do with Vietnam, exactly?  The system created by George Orwell in 1984 resembles the situation in Vietnam so much, it is frightening.  From the VCP at the very top of the pyramid, all the way to the citizens at the bottom, George Orwell has painted the perfect picture of totalitarianism and The Party.  The VCP, and the CCP, control every aspects of their citizens lives.  The Party plants spies, tries to reshape the social order, spreads relentless propaganda, rewrites history, and destroys any form of dissidence.

In Vietnam, the Party reigns supreme over everything else, even the state itself.  Every act that The Party performs in 1984, the Communists are doing right now.  The legendary figure, Big Brother, can be compared to the mythical, yet fabricated, prowess of the evil Ho Chi Minh.  It is just quite amazing to see Orwell, who did not live long enough to see the true horrors of Communism, paint such a beautifully, yet frighteningly, vivid picture of their System.  This is dedicated to all the Winston Smiths in Vietnam right now.  To all the people who continue to fight for the freedom of Vietnam, braving the abuses, crackdowns, and wrongful arrests by The Party, please stay strong, and know that we support you all the way.

Vietnamese History Books, First Impressions

Posted in Books, II. History, Opinions, VII. Research with tags , , on August 9, 2010 by Ian Pham

I recently checked out a couple of history books from the school library, one titled A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis, the other was The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger.  The first thing I noticed about Vietnamese history is that very little is written about the country in western literature.  Since the section on Vietnamese history was directly next to the giant wall dedicated to Chinese history, I couldn’t help but feel a little indignant about the lack of books written about this particular topic.  Anyways, I did manage to find these two books which, at first glance, seems like credible sources of information.  I haven’t read the books yet, though I always keep in mind that I should, as the saying goes, “never judge a book by it’s cover.”

Even though I haven’t had the time to read these books all the way through, since they are both pretty lengthy, I managed to look through some chapters of both and get an impression of what they are like.  At first, Oscar Chapuis’s A History of Vietnam seemed like the better choice, but as I read through it more, I quickly noticed the author’s advocation that Vietnam was the offspring of China, which has been proven today as a complete fabrication.  This idea was conveyed in the early chapters, claiming that Shen Nung, the ancestor of Hong Bang, was Chinese.  This book was written in 1995, so I don’t blame the author for believing such ideas.  However, I do notice the author’s carelessness in expressing his conclusions.  This book is much shorter than Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon. At only 216 pages, this book attempts to cover several thousand years of Vietnamese history.  For this reason, some of Chapuis’s ideas seem quite rushed, sounding more regurgitated from other sources than critically analyzed by his own thoughts.  What Oscar Chapuis succeeds in doing however, is to quickly cover many historical events and individuals in a short amount of time, which is useful for a quick read.

Now, let’s take a look at Joseph Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam. This was written in 1958, a time when the world knew little about the nation of Vietnam.  At a hefty 535 pages, Joseph Buttinger offers great coverage on the history of Vietnam.  The findings expressed by Buttinger are very well thought out and analytical, though his views are debatable at times.  Even though the works are nearly four decades apart, Joseph Buttinger’s writing feels much more eloquent than Oscar Chapuis’s.  Buttinger shares his ideas, but also provides more substantial arguments for his views.  However, one must keep in mind that this book was written more than 50 years ago, so some of his findings have been proven wrong by current research and technology.  Therefore, I must be critical in expressing my concerns in the author’s views in regards to Vietnam’s relationship with China, as well as the findings on the history of ancient Vietnam.  Even so, I must compliment the lengthly research made on this book, and commend the author on his extensive coverage.

Well, those are my first impressions of these books anyway.  The only way to really be sure is if you check them out for yourself.  I will have to look more into these books whenever I can find the time.  If you are interested, these books should be available at your city/public library.  Anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese history should give them a shot.  As an independent reader, always remember to be critical of the material, question all of it, and no matter what, don’t believe everything you read.

Happy reading!

Ratings At First Glance

  • A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis: C
  • The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger: B+