Archives par mot-clé : Nha Ca

Sean Fear : How South Vietnam Defeated Itself

[ndlr] Article intéressant de la série Vietnam’ 67. Un regard sur la politique intérieure de la République du Viêt-Nam à la suite de la déflagration du Têt 1968.

In the early hours of Jan. 30, 1968, the first Communist rockets struck provincial capitals across South Vietnam. A nationwide ground assault followed, and by morning the next day, much of the urban South was besieged, including Saigon’s radio station, the South Vietnamese military headquarters and even the American Embassy. What local papers dubbed the “Year of Sand” — referring to the ubiquitous sandbags appearing in front of the nation’s doors and windows — was well underway.

In the United States, the attacks, which came to be known as the Tet offensive, are remembered as a psychological turning point, the moment when President Johnson is said to have lost the faith of CBS broadcaster Walter Cronkite — and by extension, the public at large. Indeed, though Communist forces suffered substantial losses in manpower and morale, the contradiction between American officials’ buoyant promises and weeks of astonishing televised carnage was never reconciled. But Tet’s political impact in South Vietnam proved equally significant, and no less critical, in determining the outcome of the war.

Still routinely mischaracterized as an American client regime, South Vietnam was home to millions of fervent but factionalized anti-Communists, mostly concentrated in urban centers and provincial capitals. Reacting to the shock of Tet, they set aside longstanding quarrels and rallied in a rare display of solidarity. But the outpouring of constructive energy following the Tet attacks was hastily squandered. Instead, President Nguyen Van Thieu used the opportunity to undertake naked power grabs, compromising the constitutional basis on which his legitimacy was premised, and driving even the most dedicated anti-communists to despair. Post-Tet resolve succumbed to cynical resignation, while military confidence and commitment eroded.

As a result, a moment that could have been a turning point for the country became the beginning of the end. When the government finally surrendered to Communist tanks in April 1975, the South’s political fate had long since been sealed.

Lire la suite : New York Times (23/02/2018)

Illustration “à la une” :A family fleeting fighting in Saigon in 1968. ©Tim Page/Corbis, via Getty Images

Olga Dror : The Author and her Work [about Nha Ca]

[ndlr] A l’occasion des cinquante ans de l’Offensive du Têt, relisons l’article historique d’Olga Dror en introduction du témoignage de Nha Ca paru en 1969 et traduit en anglais en 2014 (p. xv-lxv).

Réf. : Nha Ca, Mourning Headband for Hue. An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968, Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 2014. Translated with an Introduction by Olga Dror.


Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” 2017 : séance 3

Année universitaire 2017-2018 / Master Asie Orientale Contemporaine (ASIOC) / Semestre 1

ENS de Lyon / Sciences Po Lyon

Mémoires d’Indochine :

Récits de vie, histoire et littérature : connexions et déconnexions

★ ★ ★

Guerres directes et indirectes

Séance 3 : mercredi 4 octobre 2017 – salle D4.070 (IAO)

“La guerre, comme l’amour, ne se raconte pas” écrit Phan Huy Duong le traducteur de Bao Ninh. Alors que la guerre fait rage au Viêt-Nam pendant plus de trente ans, elle a varié en intensité. La guerre à Cantho, dans le delta du Mékong, n’est pas la même qu’à Danang. Dien Bien Phu, le Verdun vietnamien, s’écrit aujourd’hui à hauteur d’hommes avec de la peur et des larmes. La guerre vue de Saigon reçoit les échos des brutalités commises par les hommes en armes dans les deltas et dans la jungle. Les petites “guerres” qui se déroulent sur les campus américains, japonais ou européens en forment des échos indirects et lointains. Hanoi sous les bombardements de 1972 ou la Piste Ho Chi Minh sous les nuages de défoliants et sous les orages de feu ont laissé des traces profondes dans les récits de ceux qui l’ont vécu. Pour l’écrivain Bao Ninh, un des premiers à briser le tabou de l’héroïsme officiel, la guerre n’est que dévastation et reste à toujours sans vainqueurs. A travers quelques textes, nous explorons ce qu’en disent les écrivains et comment la déchirure s’exprime.

Sources mobilisées :

  • Bao Ninh, Le chagrin de la guerre, Arles, Philippe Picquier, 1994, p. 15-27.
  • Nha Ca, Les canons tonnent la nuit, Arles, Philippe Picquier, 1997, p. 103-150.
  • Vu Bao, “Le héros qui pissait dans son froc”, dans Le héros qui pissait dans son froc, La Tour d’Aigues, L’Aube, 1996, p. 51-62.


Quelques récits accompagnants cette séance :

Dang Thuy Trâm, Les carnets retrouvés, 1968-1970, Arles, Philippe Picquier, 2010.

Dao Thanh Huyen et al., Dien Bien Phu vu d’en face. Paroles de bô dôi, Paris, Nouveau Monde éditions, 2010.

Lê Cao Dai, C’était au Tây Nguyên. Journal de guerre d’un chirurgien nord-vietnamien, 1965-1973, Hanoi, Editions The Gioi, 2006.

Ngo Van Chieu, Journal d’un combattant Viêt-Minh, Paris, Seuil, 1955.

  • Portrait de Phan Nhat Nam : Phan Nhật Nam (1943) is a writer, known as South Vietnam’s most famous war reporter.


Analyses du roman de Bao Ninh :

Doan Cam Thi, « Le Chagrin de la guerre » ou l’impossible autobiographie, La Revue des Ressources, mardi 1er février 2011.

Phan Huy Duong, “Une douleur sans perspective”, in Bao Ninh, Le chagrin de la guerre, Arles, Philippe Picquier, 1994, p. 5-14.


Image “à la une” : “Guerre en Asie” par FX et illustration photographique de l’agence Sputnik, La piste Ho Chi Minh.

Nhã Ca : Mourning Headband for Hue. An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968 – Review by Gary Kulik

[ndlr] Signalement d’un CR de lecture en ligne de Gary Kulik sur l’ouvrage de Nhã Ca, Mourning Headband for Hue: An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968. Témoignage poignant sur massacre perpétré par le Viêt-Công (FNL Sud Viêt-Nam) à Huê lors de l’offensive du Têt.

NhaCa_MourningHeadbandForHueMourning Headband for Hue, originally published in Saigon in 1969 as Giải khăn sô Huế, was the first book-length account of the Tet Offensive. Its author, a prominent Vietnamese writer, Trần Thị Thu Vân, wrote under the pen name Nhã Ca. In late January 1968, she had traveled to Hue, where she was born, to mourn the death of her father. The North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong attacked the next day. She remained trapped in Hue with her family for more than a month, until US and South Vietnamese forces finally prevailed in bloody urban fighting. Returning to Saigon, she wrote a forceful, fearful, poetic account of the devastating impact of war on civilians; its title invokes the white headband worn by Vietnamese grieving their dead. The book attests to the communist forces’ horrendous killings of thousands of Vietnamese in the Hue Massacre. Olga Dror’s translation now makes it accessible to an English-speaking audience.

Born in 1939, Nhã Ca became a prominent poet and writer in Saigon in the early 1960s. Her themes were “love, passion, and longing” (xvi). Raised a Buddhist, she adopted her pen name after reading the Old Testament “Song of Solomon,” also known (to Catholics) as “Canticles” (the approximate meaning of “Nhã Ca” is “canticle”). In 1966, she joined the Voice of Freedom, a radio station broadcasting into North Vietnam. Her first major work, At Night I Hear Cannons, was reprinted six times and sold over 100,000 copies. It tells the story of a family waiting, in the end futilely, for a son and son-in-law to return from the war to celebrate Tet, the Lunar New Year. While decrying the cost of war, its author yet takes no sides.

Olga Dror (Texas A&M), a scholar of Vietnamese history, worked closely with the author to capture her “unadulterated voice from the time of war” (xi). Her long “Translator’s Introduction” sketches Nhã Ca’s life and work and explains how the special “staccato tempo” of Mourning Headband “dramatically and palpably [reflects] life in raw and desperate eloquence in the middle of the battlefield that was Hue” (xviii). Especially valuable is Dror’s detailed and fair-minded analysis of contemporary reports of the massacre, the political uses of that reportage, and the rare and little known personal comments on the atrocity from the communist side. The current Vietnamese government has never acknowledged or openly discussed the massacre and there is no serious scholarly study of it.

Lire la suite : Michigan War Studies Review

Nha Ca : Mourning Headband for Hue – An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968

[ndlr] Parution de la traduction de l’ouvrage emblématique de l’écrivaine Nha Ca relatant les tragiques événements de Hue en 1968.



Nha Ca, Mourning Headband for Hue

Translated with an Introduction by Olga Dror

 Vietnam, January, 1968. As the citizens of Hue are preparing to celebrate Tet, the start of the Lunar New Year, Nha Ca arrives in the city to attend her father’s funeral. Without warning, war erupts all around them, drastically changing or cutting short their lives. After a month of fighting, their beautiful city lies in ruins and thousands of people are dead. Mourning Headband for Hue tells the story of what happened during the fierce North Vietnamese offensive and is an unvarnished and riveting account of war as experienced by ordinary people caught up in the violence.

Table of contents

Note on Translation
Translator’s Introduction
Small Preface: Writing to Admit Guilt
1. First Hours
2. The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
3. Hodge-podge
4. On a Boat Trip
5. A Person from Tu Dam Comes Back and Tells His Story
6. Going Back into the Hell of the Fighting
7. Story from the Citadel
8. Returning to the Old House
9. A Dog in Midstream
10. Little Child of, Hue Little Child of Vietnam, I Wish You Luck!

Nha Ca, meaning a “courteous, elegant song” or “canticle” in Vietnamese, is the penname of one of the most famous South Vietnamese writers of the second half of the 20th century, whose real name is Tran Thi Thu Van. She was born in Hue in 1939 and spent her youth there before moving to Saigon where she became a popular and prolific writer and poet. Initially her works focused on love but starting from the mid-1960s in many of her works she began to describe the fighting, atrocities, and suffering inflicted by the war that was ravaging her country. The most significant and famous of these works is Mourning Headband for Hue, which describes the experience of Vietnamese civilians in Hue during the Tet Offensive. This work was one of the winners of South Vietnam’s Presidential Literary Award. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Communist authorities put Nha Ca into a prison camp where she remained from 1976 to 1977. Her husband, the poet Tran Dạ Tu, was jailed for twelve years. In 1989, a year after he was released from prison, the couple and their family received political asylum from the Swedish government. Later they moved to the United States and now live in Southern California, where they publish the Vietnamese-language newspaper Viet Bao.

Born and raised in Leningrad, USSR, Olga Dror received an MA in Oriental studies from Leningrad State University in 1987 and later pursued an advanced degree from the Institute for Linguistic Studies in the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. She worked for Radio Moscow’s Department of Broadcasting to Vietnam. In 1990 she immigrated to Israel, studied international relations at Hebrew University, and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its embassy in Riga, Latvia, from 1994 to 1996. She continued her study of Vietnam and earned a PhD from Cornell University in 2003. Now an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, she is author of Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History and editor of two volumes on Vietnamese and Chinese religions. Her current research concerns the identities of Vietnamese children during the war in Vietnam.


“The author’s narrative burns with firsthand accounts, her own and those of others who shared their stories, as they all were trapped in blasted houses, churches and makeshift shelters, wounded, starving, sick and overrun by the Communists and their squads of vengeful executioners…[A] searing first-person account of the misery of war visited upon her family, neighbors and countrymen, caught in senseless, chaotic horror…A visceral reminder of war’s intimate slaughter.” —Kirkus Reviews.

“Nha Ca relates countless moments of terror she and her extended family members suffered and shares stories told to her by others who faced similarly dire circumstances. It’s an intimate—and disturbing—account of war at its most brutal, told from the point of view of civilians trying to survive the maelstrom.” —Publishers Weekly.

“A superb piece of work. I have never encountered anything remotely like it in the voluminous literature on the Vietnam War. Nha Ca’s voice is so powerfully immediate, and her caring determined eyes carefully guide the reader into the thick of a chaotic world painfully under siege. A wonderful testimonial history but also a great work of commemoration.” —Heonik Kwon, University of Cambridge, author of Ghosts of War in Vietnam.

“Mourning Headband for Hue is a personal account of what happened in Hue during the month-long occupation of parts of the city by communist troops during the 1968 Tet Offensive, a very bloody episode of the Vietnam War which inflicted extremely heavy losses on the civilian population in both human and material terms. Stranded in Hue where she had come to visit her family, the author found herself face-to-face with the war. . . . Horrified, she recounts her experiences day by day as if weeping and wailing in the remembrance of the atrocities she has seen and heard. It is indeed a book laden with blood, sweat, and tears, but records events without distorting them. With explanatory information on many persons and events provided by the translator, the book is a valuable document for the history of the Vietnam War.” —Nguyen The Anh, Rector of Hue University at the time of the events described in this book, is professor emeritus, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris-Sorbonne, and author most recently of Vietnam: A Journey into History (in French).

“The stunning formal techniques the book employs to convey the horrors of [the Vietnam War] endow it with a measure of universal literary significance that lies outside the local arenas of Vietnamese politics and culture. . . . A Mourning Headband for Hue is, quite simply, a great piece of modernist war writing and it deserves to be read alongside All Quiet on the Western Front, Homage to Catalonia, Johnny Got His Gun, The Naked and the Dead, The Things They Carried, and Black Hawk Down.” —Peter Zinoman, University of California Berkeley, author of Vietnamese Colonial Republican: The Political Vision of Vu Trong Phung.

“In this searing and unsparing memoir, Nha Ca bears witness to the mindless violence against civilians in war. Her civilian focus is important: in all of the writing on the Vietnam War, too little has been written on the civilian experience of conflict, a conflict that profoundly shaped the lives of millions of Vietnamese. It is important that we read about this violence, and through first-hand accounts: the further we move away from the Vietnam War, and the more we clinically dissect the war in terms of high politics and military strategy, the less we seem to remember that the war, on the ground, could be vicious, brutal, and devastating. A Mourning Headband for Hue is an anguished testimonial to that reality.” —Shawn F. McHale, George Washington University and author of Print and Power: Confucianism, Communism, and Buddhism in the Making of Modern Vietnam.

Source : Indiana University Press

Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” : Mémento auteurs – séance 4

 Année universitaire 2012-2013 / Master Asie Orientale Contemporaine (ASIOC) / Semestre 1

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Mémoires d’Indochine :

Regards internes sur la décolonisation et la guerre

au Viêt-Nam, Laos et Cambodge

* * *

Mémento Auteurs

Notices biographiques des auteurs discutés lors de la Séance 4

 Partie 1 : Expériences de guerre

Nhã Ca (1939-), real name Trần Thị Thu Vân, is a popular and prolific fiction writer and poet. Born in Huế, she was married to the poet Trần Dạ Từ and was the founder of the publishing house Thương yêu. She was “the most strident voice in South Vietnam in her indictment of the communist atrocities” (Nguyễn, 165), with such works as Đêm nghe tiếng đại-bác [At night I hear the cannons], Tình-ca cho Huế đổ-nát [Love song for rubbled Hue], and Giải khăn sô cho Huế [Mourning turban for Huế]. After 1975, she was the only South Vietnamese female writer among 10 black-listed as “cultural guerrillas” by the Communist regime, and was imprisoned from 1976-1977. Her husband was jailed for 12 years. In 1989, a year after he was released from prison, the couple and their family received political asylum from the Swedish government, but later moved to the US and now live in Southern California, where they founded the popular newsaper Việt Báo. A story of hers, translated into English by James Banerian, is included in the anthology, Vietnamese Short Stories: An Introduction (Phoenix: Sphinx 1985). Hai-Dang Phan started this entry on VNLP (Vietnam Literature Project / portrait Viet Bao online).

Professor Le Cao Dai, M.D., one of Vietnam’s premier researchers on the effects of Agent Orange on human health and recently retired director of Vietnam’s Agent Orange Victims Fund, died on April 15, 2002 after a short illness. He was seventy-four. Born in Hanoi, Dr. Dai studied medicine in the northern highlands of Vietnam during the Resistance War against the French. During the U.S. War, he directed North Vietnamese Army Field Hospital 211 in the western highlands of central Vietnam south of the demilitarized zone. His journal, Tay Nguyen Ngay Ay (“The Western Highlands During Those Days”), published by Hanoi’s Labour Publishing House in 1997, is a vivid portrayal of the war between 1965 and 1973. Dr. Dai later served as director of the 108 Military Hospital, one of Hanoi’s most prestigious medical centers. Dr. Dai personally observed the first effects of defoliant spraying during the Vietnam War. He was a founding member of the 1080 Committee, which studies the long-term consequences of defoliant spraying on human health. His research, conducted in partnership with U.S. scientists, was published in Chemosphere, the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine. Dr. Dai also presented his findings as a panelist at the 1999 annual conference of the American Public Health Association. He is the author of Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War: History and Consequences, translated by Diane Fox and published in 2000 by the Vietnam Red Cross. Dr. Dai also served on the steering committee for the conference, “Long-Term Environmental Consequences of the Vietnam War,” which was held in Stockholm at the end of July 2002. Dr. Dai firmly believed that those who were victims of Agent Orange should receive assistance. He directed the Agent Orange Victims Fund under the auspices of the Vietnam Red Cross from the fund’s inception in 1998 until shortly before his death. The Agent Orange Victims Fund provides humanitarian assistance to victims and their families, including financial support, health care and vocational training. The Ford Foundation and the American Red Cross have been generous contributors, as have individuals and organizations from Denmark, Great Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States, and other countries. Dr. Le Cao Dai is survived by his wife of nearly fifty years, the artist Vu Giang Huong. (by Veteran Staff – notice biographique sur le site de VVAW – Vietnam Veterans Against the War / Photo : The Gioi).

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Partie 2 : Exposés sur Dien Bien Phu et le génocide cambodgien

Dao Thanh Huyen est journaliste indépendante à Hanoï (Viêt Nam), où elle travaille pour la presse européenne. Née en 1969 au Nord Vietnam en plein bombardements américains, cela ne l’a pas empêché d’apprendre le français au lycée, puis à l’université. Elle est bilingue vietnamien/français. En 1993, elle réussit un concours d’entrée à la télévision nationale vietnamienne, pour présenter le journal en français. “Au Vietnam, il n’y a pas d’école de journalisme. Le journalisme est un mélange entre l’actualité, la subjectivité et la littérature. Les journalistes n’exercent pas principalement ce métier. Ils travaillent d’abord pour un organe d’état. Ce travail leur donne le “droit” d’écrire.” En 1995, elle s’installe à Lille pour deux ans et suit l’Ecole supérieure de journalisme de Lille. Diplômée de l’ESJ de Lille et lauréate de la fondation Jean-Luc-Lagardère, elle travaille également comme formatrice pour ESJ-International, pour l’Agence vietnamienne d’information et pour l’Association des journalistes du Vietnam notamment. De retour au Vietnam, elle réintègre la télé nationale, dont elle démissionnera le 31 août 1999. Lauréate Ex-Aequo de la Bourse Journaliste 1999. Après avoir mené une enquête auprès des vétérans vietnamiens (RDVN) de Dien Bien Phu, elle publie avec Dang Duc Tue et un groupe de jeunes journalistes l’ouvrage Dien Bien Phu vu d’en face, paru au Viêt Nam en 2009 puis en France l’année suivante. Elle travaille actuellement sur les témoignages de Hanoïen lors des bombardements aériens de 1972. (d’après : Est-Ouest et Babelio / photo : Est-Ouest).

Toute la vie et l’œuvre de Rithy Panh [1964-] sont profondément marquées par le génocide perpétué au Cambodge par les Khmers rouges entre 1975 et 1979. Lorsque le mouvement communiste arrive au pouvoir, le jeune Rithy n’a que treize ans. Expulsé de Phnom Penh, sa ville natale, il s’enfuit en Thaïlande en 1979 avant de rejoindre la France l’année suivante. Il s’inscrit alors à l’Institut des hautes études cinématographiques et en sort diplômé en 1985. Le jeune réalisateur se spécialise dès lors dans le documentaire. Dans ‘Les Gens de la rizière’, Panh décrit les horreurs observées dans son pays. Le film est présenté en compétition officielle à Cannes en 1994. Suivra quatre ans plus tard ‘Un soir après la guerre’, retenu pour la section Un Certain Regard. Mais c’est surtout le documentaire ‘S21, La Machine khmere rouge’ qui le révèle à l’international. Dans ce nouveau long-métrage, Rithy Panh confronte les trois rescapés de la base S21 – où 17.000 Cambodgiens ont été torturés et exécutés – à leurs anciens bourreaux. Présenté dans de nombreux festivals, ‘S21’ est notamment primé à Cannes en 2003. En 2005, le cinéaste franco-cambodgien est de retour sur la Croisette. Il y présente hors compétition ‘Les Artistes du théâtre brûlé’. Même sort pour ‘Le Maître des forges de l’enfer’ en 2011. Toujours centré sur le travail de mémoire, Panh transpose cette fois-ci sur écran son regard sur le procès de Duch, directeur de la prison de Tuol Sleng sous la dictature des Khmers rouges. Quatre ans plus tôt, il se concentrait sur le sort des femmes prostituées au Cambodge dans ‘Le Papier ne peut pas envelopper la braise’. Également acteur, on le retrouve en 2004 dans ‘Holy Lola’ de Bertrand Tavernier dans le rôle de Monsieur Khieu aux côtés d’Isabelle Carré et de Jacques Gamblin. En 2012 il écrit avec Christophe Bataille L’ Elimination qui reçoit le prix France Television et le prix Aujourd’ hui. […]. (source : Evene / photo : Jean Barak)

Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” : Séance 4

Année universitaire 2012-2013 / Master Asie Orientale Contemporaine (ASIOC) / Semestre 1


Mémoires d’Indochine :

Regards internes sur la décolonisation et la guerre

au Viêt-Nam, Laos et Cambodge


Séance 4 – vendredi 19 octobre 2012

« Expériences de guerres en Indochine »



Cette séance sera consacrée aux multiples expériences de guerre en Indochine : guerre urbaine, jungle, guérilla, mobilisation, corps en situation, comportements et psychologie des combattants. A l’appui de deux exemples très différents, la guerre du Viêt-Nam vue du Nord et du Sud, vue de la jungle ou de la ville, sera questionnée.


Extraits de textes à discuter :

  • LE CAO DAI, C’était au Tây Nguyên. Journal de guerre d’un chirurgien nord-vietnamien 1965-1973 , Hanoi, Editions The Gioi, 2006, ch. III (pp. 75-123) [+ dos de couverture]. Traduction de Nguyen Thi Nga avec la participation de Pierre Darruillat.
  • NHA CA, Les canons tonnent la nuit, Arles, Editions Philippe Picquier, 1997, pp. 13-22, 103-111, 129-150 [+ dos de couverture]. Roman traduit du vietnamien par Liêu Truong.


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Exposés oraux :


Pour aller plus loin dans la réflexion :

  • Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane, Combattre. Une anthropologie historique de la guerre moderne (XIXe- XXIe siècles), Paris, Editions du Seuil, Les livres du nouveau monde, 2008.
  • Capdevilla, Luc & al., Hommes et femmes dans la France en guerre (1914-1945), Paris, Editions Payot & Rivages, 2003. (de Luc Capdevilla, François Rouquet, Fabrice Virgili et Danièle Voldman).