Vietnam: The Definitive Oral History Told From All Sides by Christian G Appy - review by Jonathan Mirsky

Jonathan Mirsky

Saigon Stories

Vietnam: The Definitive Oral History Told From All Sides


Ebury Press 574pp £19.99

The American historian Christian Appy interviewed 350 Americans and Vietnamese, including soldiers, nurses, senior political officials, humble civilians and anti-war activists for this big and very sad book. Half the testimonies are published here. Some of those who spoke to Appy bear terrible physical wounds; others, on both sides, still suffer in their hearts and minds. Well over 50,000 Americans died; a much larger number were wounded, often permanently. Millions of Vietnamese, soldiers and civilians, died, partly because insufficient treatment was available to their wounded. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese risked drowning to flee after the Communist victory; the victors imprisoned thousands of others. With Vietnamese help the US has recovered many of its Missing in Action dead. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese soldiers and guerrillas will never be found. 

I declare an interest. I was an anti-war journalist in Vietnam in 1965 and 1967. I also met certain North Vietnamese and Viet Cong leaders, stationed abroad, who were interviewed decades later by Appy. I knew some of the peace campaigners whose words appear in this book. In every case,

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