Saturday, April 27, 2013

Đức


A reporter’s love for the wounded people of Vietnam

By Uwe Siemon-Netto


Đc is the Vietnamese word for German, and Đc was Uwe Siemon-Netto’s nickname during his time as a Vietnam War correspondent. Exactly four decades after America’s withdrawal from that conflict, Siemon-Netto has chosen Đc as the title for his book about his five years of covering the war for Germany’slargest publishing house.
In the words of Peter R. Kann, the former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, “Uwe Siemon-Netto, the distinguished German journalist, has written a masterful memoir… He captures, as very few others have, the pathos and absurdities, the combat, cruelties and human cost of a conflict, which -- as he unflinchingly and correctly argues -- the wrong side won.
“From the street cafes of Saigon to special forces outposts in the central highlands, from villages where terror comes at night to the carnage and war crimes visited on the city of Hue at Tet, 1968, Uwe brings a brilliant reportorial talent and touch.  Above all, Uwe writes about the Vietnamese people:  street urchins and buffalo boys, courageous warriors and hapless war victims, and the full human panoply of a society at war. 
“As a German, Uwe had, as he puts it, ‘no dog in this fight’, but he understood the rights and wrongs of this war better than almost anyone and his heart, throughout the powerful and moving volume, is always and ardently with the Vietnamese people.”
Bestseller author Barbara Taylor Bradford called Đức  “one of the most touching and moving books I have read in a long time. It is also hilarious… I did cry at times, but I also laughed.” Former UPI editor-in-chief John O’Sullivan, described Đức ” as an “angry account of a betrayal of a nation,” adding, “But there is hope about people on every page too.”
Partly as a result of his Vietnam experiences, Siemon-Netto turned to theology, earning an MA and a Ph.D. in this field and writing a textbook on pastoral care to former warriors, titled, “The Acquittal of God, A Theology for Vietnam Veterans.”
Written in English, Duc will be available on Amazon.com by the end of May. It is also on offer in Vietnamese and a German edition is expected to be ready by early 2014. “This brilliant book reminds me of Theodore White’s In Search of History,” commented Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. “Uwe Siemon-Netto challenges facets of our flawed historical memory of the Vietnam War,” McMaster continued.
 In his epilogue, Uwe Siemon-Netto raises the timely question of whether contemporary democracies are politically and psychologically equipped and patient enough to fight guerrilla wars to a victorious conclusion. Citing the former North Vietnamese defense minister Vo Nguyen Giap’s assessment that they are not, Siemon-Netto observes in Đức with an eye on Afghanistan, “Even more dangerous totalitarians [than the Vietnamese Communists] are taking note today.”

5 comments:

  1. There was a German presence in Viet-Nam shortly before Uwe's arrival. It was a German soccer team that spoke only German, as far as I know. When they arrived at the small hotel where I was staying in Saigon in 1965, the management approached me to translate for them because I spoke French and had been seen speaking to the soccer players in German. It was the first of many unusual experiences I had in Viet-Nam, none of which were quite as horrible as those that Uwe would witness later.

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    1. Thanks for mentioning this. I have a vague memory of this team coming to Saigon. (I had arrived early January 1965)

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  2. Replies
    1. By going to my website www.siemon-netto.org

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  3. Hello Mr. Siemon-Netto,
    I'm a Vietnamerican who has bought and read your book "Đức: A Reporter's Love for A Wounded People" from cover to cover. I was surprised to find that it was not published by any well-known American publisher. It is exceptionally written, beautiful in its heartfelt revelation and romantic prose, and of course journalistically exciting. Why?
    I have swallowed my tears inwardly for all these years living in America and teaching U.S. History in its most liberal city by the Bay, San Francisco, yet once again your book tore at my heart. What can we do to right the wrong of American politics, except adding our voice to the cry in the wilderness.
    I've bought this book from Nguyễn Hiền but had wished that I could find it in the bookstore.

    Nguyễn-Khoa Thái Anh

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