An unforgettable true story of an orphan caught in the midst of war
Over a million South Vietnamese children were orphaned by the Vietnam War. This affecting true account tells the story of Long, who, like more than 40,000 other orphans, is Amerasian a mixed-race child with little future in Vietnam. Escape from Saigon allows readers to experience Long's struggle to survive in war-torn Vietnam, his dramatic escape to America as part of "Operation Babylift" during the last chaotic days before the fall of Saigon, and his life in the United States as "Matt," part of a loving Ohio family. Finally, as a young doctor, he journeys back to Vietnam, ready to reconcile his Vietnamese past with his American present.
As the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War approaches, this compelling account provides a fascinating introduction to the war and the plight of children caught in the middle of it.
Warren's (Orphan Train Rider) compelling, emotionally charged account focuses on Long, a boy born in 1966 in a small village in South Vietnam (to a Vietnamese mother and "an unknown American father"). Like the author's daughter, Long was one of 2,300 Vietnamese orphans whom Operation Babylift brought to the U.S. The author mines the child's memories to create a sense of his early years in Vietnam, and the impact of war and scarcity on his family. Some of the details may disturb more sensitive readers: Long wakened next to his mother's body after her suicide, and the boy lived with his grandmother until, no longer able to care for him she took him on his seventh birthday to Saigon's Holt Center, whose mission was to help place orphans with American families. The volume contains bright and even heroic moments: Warren describes the boy's relatively comfortable if lonely life at the Center, universal childhood experiences such as a fascination with learning to ride a bike, and the painstaking process of evacuating the orphans to America just before Saigon's fall in 1975. The narrative incorporates much sobering information, including the crash of the first Operation Babylift flight soon after takeoff. The tone of the tale brightens as Warren anecdotally writes of Long's adaptation to American life as a member of the Steiner family of Ohio. Dramatic accounts of other Vietnamese and American people's escape from Saigon on the eve of its collapse plus numerous b&w photos round out this informative book and help bring into clear focus the Vietnam War's effects on children. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.