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Uwe's Vietnam Memoirs on Amazon


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Duc: A reporter's love for the wounded people of Vietnam [Paperback]

Uwe Siemon-Netto , Peter R. Kann

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Book Description

July 10, 2013
Almost half a century ago, a young reporter from Germany arrived in still-glamorous Saigon to cover the Vietnam War over a period of five years. In this memoir he now tells the story of how he fell in love with the Vietnamese people. He praises the beauty, elegance and feistiness of their women. He describes blood-curdling Communist atrocities and fierce combat scenes he had witnessed. He introduces a striking array of characters: heroes, villains, statesmen and spooks, hilarious eccentrics, street urchins and orphans herding water buffalos. He shows how professional malpractice by U.S. media stars such as Walter Cronkite turned the military victory of American and South Vietnamese forces during the 1968 Tet Offensive into a political defeat. He mourns the countless innocent victims of the Communist conquest of South Vietnam, which was the grim consequence of its abandonment by the United States. Thus, he argues, the wrong side won. Finally, with the eyes on Afghanistan, he poses a harrowing question: Are democratic societies with their proclivity for self-indulgence politically and psychologically equipped to win a protracted war against a totalitarian foe?



About the Author

For 57 years, Uwe Siemon-Netto, an international journalist from Germany, has reported about major world events including the construction and the fall of the Berlin Wall and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He covered the Vietnam War over a period of five years, from 1965 until 1969 and then again in 1972. He has also written extensively about topics ranging from wine, food, classical music and modern art to religion. At age 50 he interrupted his career to earn an M.A. at a Lutheran seminary in Chicago and a doctorate in theology and sociology of religion at Boston University. His doctoral dissertation titled, The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths, has been widely acclaimed as a resounding argument against the charge that the 16th-century German reformer could have been Hitler's progenitor. As part of his theological studies Siemon-Netto served as a chaplain to Vietnam veterans in Minnesota and wrote a significant book on pastoral care titled, The Acquittal of God: A Theology for Vietnam Veterans. Dr. Siemon-Netto now lives in southern California as a writer, educator and founding director emeritus of the Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life in Capistrano Beach. Part of the year he and his British-born wife, Gillian, spend their time at their home in the Charente region of southwestern France.

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Editorial Reviews


Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Now that the aftermath of the U.S. involvement and debacle in VN has created the worst human rights situation in Vietnam for the last 38 years - longer if one considers U.S. support for France's attempt to retake Vietnam in 1946 - Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto's book has finally shed some light on the role of the American and Western media, albeit almost half a century late. Too bad, as the architect of the VN war, Robert McNamara - with all his 'smart' - should have had the gumption to come up with the same conclusion as the author's, based on Sir Robert Thompson's Strategic Hamlet program and support for the idea of a protracted war against Viet Cong guerrillas. Both the U.S. Defense Secretary and the author were apprised of the battle in Ia Drang in the Central Highland. The difference is McNamara wasn't there during the conflagration but came home after-the-fact tour of the area with a negative assessment that the war could not be won even in 1965, while Dr. Siemon-Netto was present at the carnage where he described: the elephant grass was red with the enemy young conscripted blood thus came up with a different assessment.

His book was so colorful and vividly narrated that it gives a Vietnamese like me the nostalgic local color of the Saigon I used to know in my boyhood, deserving the apt descriptive French moniker La Perle d'Orient, with scenes and memories from the Continental Palace, the Majestic Hotel, La Pagode, Brodard, Rue Catinat, and the 5 o' clock folly official news-briefing at the Caravelle. And particularly Huế, the subtle and full of nuances ancient imperial capital.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be read by every American July 11, 2013
I could not put this book down. I quoted passages to my wife and found my voice quivering. A friend who experienced reeducation by the communists in Vietnam loaned the book to me. I would have gladly paid for it. At first I thought the author was fabricating, but I spent eight and one half years in south East Asia. Three and one half years in Vietnam and five years in Laos, first with the Marines and then with Air America. I did five years of research for my book Honor Denied. I can't verify every single fact, but I believe the author is authentic and credible.
I've read countess historical books on Vietnam, including the books the author mentions by Bernard Fall. This may be one of the best, and I believe Bernard Fall would have endorsed it without hesitation had he not been killed near Hue in the very place the author describes.
This is one of the few books on Vietnam that criticizes the apologists with eye witness accounts that cut to the soul and leave no doubt about authenticity. The atrocities that occurred in Hue in 1968 were described in a manner that made one shudder. I had to lay the book down a couple of times, but the detail was so explicit I was forced to pick it up again almost immediately.
The description of the women in Vietnam, their strength and vitality, and specifically the Vietnamese Ao Dai, the typical dress for women, with its combination of elegance, grace and sensuality is so real I could see it with my eyes closed. The truth about the fighting ability of the Vietnamese Marines during the Easter offensive in 1972 is also exposed. This is not the first book to do so, but it reinforces the opinion certain elite military units in South Vietnam deserve high praise for their gallantry and bravery in battle.
I want to correct one statement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vietnam alive July 17, 2013
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Excellent background and history of the Vietnam war as told by a reporter who was there. Important book for all students of history and anyone interested in this aspect of American foreign policy with numerous applications to the struggles going on today. An engaging and well written book which is a delight to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We fought the good fight July 16, 2013
Captured here is the harrowing story our sweet boys and the lovely Vietnamese people caught between the parallel lines of communism and our duplicitous media. Our intrepid reporter weaves the tale of evil and betrayal in a moving account from his own experiences. I picked it up and could not put it down and will never forget that our finest helped the least of them while fighting the in the face of evil. Because of this book I have a better understanding of the war, the people and our country. I will never trust the Marxists or their media tools. The unanswered question raised by the author: "Can a peaceful republic gin up the stamina to fight the good fight over the long haul?", is clearly answered today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and important book July 16, 2013
Uwe Siemon-Netto is one of the best journalists in Europe and America. This is perhaps his most important book. It is a Vietnam memoir like no other. Start reading, and you won't want to put it down. It is also of utmost timeliness, as Americans consider the import of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention newly unfolding tragedies in Syria and Egypt. Gerald R McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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With relevance to American involvement today in Afghanistan, author and former journalist Uwe Siemon-Netto has produced an extremely personal narrative of his Vietnam War experiences. Spanning nearly the entire period of active American ground combat involvement, he arrived in Saigon in early 1965 and remained through 1969, returning again in 1972 to report on the ill-fated Nguyen-Hue Offensive; known in the West as the Easter Offensive.

Siemon-Netto's credentials, pedigree and background are impeccable, his personal observations priceless and uncanny. His witness to both the mundane and the extremes of war are ably displayed, as is his very obvious affection for the people of Vietnam and the warriors who fought to keep the communists at bay. Acknowledging the evil at My Lai, he likewise points out the too numerous to count episodes where both American and South Vietnamese fighting men risked life and limb to protect the innocents they were there to defend.

With a special empathy few could possibly have--Uwe was born just prior to the beginning of World War II in Germany and lived through the Allied bombings of his hometown which did not so accurately discriminate between civilian and military targets--he was on hand many times to chronicle the planned, systematic and utterly barbaric murders of entire families by both the Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) judged to be sympathetic to the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) government. He arrived in Hue in early 1968 only days after 3,000-5,000 civilians were slaughtered by the communists, an occurrence many on the Left today claim, like Holocaust deniers, never happened.
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