In 1965 and 1967, when I was in Vietnam, I wondered how the North Vietnamese and the Southern guerrillas could survive, much less defeat, American power. In 1995, twenty years after Hanoi's victory, and having read three North Vietnamese novels about the long struggle, The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam by Bao Ninh, and Novel Without a Name and Paradise of the Blind both by Duong Thu Huong, I still wondered how the North Vietnamese had won. Those books, especially the first (perhaps the only superior novel about the war to emerge from either side), described bravery, fear, despair, defeatism, desertion, and Communist Party corruption. Bao Ninh was one of only ten men out of 500 in his unit who survived the war.
I remain puzzled about Hanoi's victory after reading Dang Thuy Tram's diary. A young North Vietnamese doctor who treated the wounded and dying for several years while serving in underground clinics in southern Vietnam, she was shot dead in 1970 by soldiers from the Americal Division, the ill-disciplined outfit that