For a decade before the fall of Saigon, Edward P. Metzner served as an advisor among the people of the beautiful and hotly contested Mekong Delta. After the war, he diligently sought news of the close friends and comrades in arms he had made among the Vietnamese military officers. Many had died; others could not be found. When Metzner eventually located a few, he believed their stories should be told. Three agreed to do so, and their accounts form the core of Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace.
Two of the men, Huynh Van Chinh and Tran Van Phuc, who had been colonels of the Army of Vietnam, lived through the deprivation, torture, and mental abuse of the reeducation camps and eventually found freedom in America. The experiences of these two men reveal not only the closely guarded secrets of the experiences of high-ranking officers in post-war Vietnam but also the changes in the camps over time. In the book's other first-person account, Col. Le Nguyen Binh tells a different story: his dangerous escape from Vietnam, with some of his junior officers and enlisted men, in three overloaded fishing boats with low stocks of drinking water and food and recalcitrant crews.
Metzner introduces the book and the individual stories with the details necessary to understand the larger picture of which they are a part. He also profiles Gen. Le Minh Dao, a division commander in the dangerous area northwest of Saigon who spent seventeen years in North Vietnamese jails, and Father Joe Devlin, a Catholic priest who aided innumerable people in Vietnam through the years of the war and in Malaysian refugee camps afterward.
The matter-of-fact, even stoic stories of these survivors stand as a testimony to their endurance and persistent desire to return to a life in freedom.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press