Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands: A Boy from the Mekong Delta

ViewPort Publishing
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Catching Shrimp with Bare Hands is the true story of Luong La, a boy growing up in the Mekong Delta in the midst of the Vietnam War. When the 1968 Tet Offensive forces Luong's family to flee the countryside, they continue to travel back and forth to their island farm despite threats from the Viet Cong and nearby firefights.

Out on their farm in the middle of the Mekong River, Luong wants to catch fish and slingshot birds, but Viet Cong, called mysterious misters by the villagers, stop by his family's hut and stay. "The frog dies because of its big mouth," his mother warns. The mysterious misters behead a neighbor, and Luong's aunt goes missing.

Luong plans to join the Army as soon as he's old enough to fight, but the war ends before he has a chance. Communism descends, pulling him back in time to a land without electricity or fuel where his family has to hide the books that haven't already been burned. Propaganda that "kneads their skulls," neighbors spying on each other, and the threat of starvation drive Luong to escalating acts of defiance. About to get caught by the authorities, he drops out of school to help his family build a boat to escape.
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About the author

Michelle Robin La’s fascination with her husband’s stories inspired her to write this memoir of his childhood in Vietnam. Michelle and Luong live in Santa Barbara, California with their three children. michellerobinla.com 

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Additional Information

Publisher
ViewPort Publishing
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Published on
Jan 30, 2015
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Pages
500
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ISBN
9780990917786
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Historical
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
History / Asia / Southeast Asia
History / Military / Vietnam War
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Historical accounts and memoirs of the Vietnam War often ignore the participation of nations other than Vietnam and the United States. As a result, few Americans realize that several members of the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO), including Australia, allied with South Vietnam during the conflict. By the late 1960s, more than eight thousand Australians were deployed in the region or providing support to the forces there.

In Team 19 in Vietnam, David Millie offers an insightful account of his twelve-month tour with the renowned Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in Quang Tri Province -- a crucial tactical site along the demilitarized zone that was North Vietnam's gateway to the south. Drawing from published and unpublished military documents, his personal diary, and the letters he wrote while deployed, Millie introduces readers to the daily routines, actions, and disappointments of a field staff officer. He discusses his interactions with province senior advisor Colonel Harley F. Mooney and Major John Shalikashvili, who would later become chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. This firsthand narrative vividly demonstrates the importance of the region and the substantial number of forces engaged there.

Few Australian accounts of the Vietnam War exist, and Millie offers a rare glimpse into the year after the Tet offensive, when Presidents Johnson and Nixon both made it clear that the U.S. would withdraw its troops. This important memoir reveals that responsibility for the catastrophe inflicted on Vietnamese civilians is shared by an international community that failed to act effectively in the face of a crisis., reviewing a previous edition or volume

It wasn’t rockets or artillery that came through the skies one week during the war. It was the horrific force of nature that suddenly put both sides in awe. As an unofficial truce began, questions and emotions battled inside every air crewman’s mind as they faced masses of Vietnamese civilians outside their protective base perimeters for the first time. Could we trust them not to shoot? Could they trust us not to drop them off in a detention camp? Truces never last, but life changes a bit for all the people involved while they are happening.

Sometimes wars are suspended and fighting stops for a while. A holiday that both sides recognize might do it, as happened in the Christmas truce during World War I. Weather might do it, too, as it did in Vietnam in October 1970. The “typhoon truce” was just as real, and the war stopped for three days in northern I Corps--that area bordering the demilitarized zone separating South Vietnam from the North. The unofficial “typhoon truce” came because first, Super Typhoon Joan arrived, devastating all the coastal lowlands in I Corps and further up into North Vietnam. Then, less than a week later came Super Typhoon Kate. Kate hit the same area with renewed fury, leaving the entire countryside under water and the people there faced with both war and natural disaster at the same time.

No one but the Americans, the foreign warriors fighting throughout the country, had the resources to help the people who lived in the lowlands, and so they did. For the men who took their helicopters out into the unending rain it really made little difference. Perhaps no one would shoot at them for a while, but the everyday dangers they faced remained, magnified by the low clouds and poor visibility. The crews got just as tired, maybe more so, than on normal missions. None of that really mattered. The aircrews of the 101st Airborne went out to help anyway, because rescuing people was now their mission. In this book we see how for a brief period during an otherwise vicious war, saving life took precedence over bloody conflict.

Repackaged in a new tie-in edition to coincide with the Netflix film produced and directed by Angelina Jolie, a moving story of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her triumphant spirit as she survived the Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot’s brutal regime.

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights, and sassing her parents. While her beautiful mother worried that Loung was a troublemaker—that she stomped around like a thirsty cow—her beloved father knew Loung was a clever girl.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Ung’s family fled their home and moved from village to village to hide their identity, their education, their former life of privilege. Eventually, the family dispersed in order to survive. Loung trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, while other siblings were sent to labor camps. As the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia, destroying the Khmer Rouge, Loung and her surviving siblings were slowly reunited.

Bolstered by the shocking bravery of one brother, the courage and sacrifices of the rest of her family—and sustained by her sister’s gentle kindness amid brutality—Loung forged on to create for herself a courageous new life. Harrowing yet hopeful, insightful and compelling, this story is truly unforgettable.

 

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

ONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED WORKS OF HISTORY IN RECENT YEARS
Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Christian Science Monitor • The Globe and Mail

Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France’s final years in Indochina—and shows how, from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history. An epic story of wasted opportunities and deadly miscalculations, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Embers of War is a gripping, heralded work that illuminates the hidden history of the French and American experiences in Vietnam.
 
Praise for Embers of War

“A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war.”—Pulitzer Prize citation
 
“This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence.”—Francis Parkman Prize citation
 
“A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“Superb . . . a product of formidable international research.”—The Washington Post
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