The biggest diaspora in Vietnamese history occurred between 1975 and 1992, when more than two million people fled by boat to escape North Vietnam’s oppressive communist regime. Before this well-known exodus from Vietnam’s shores, however, there was a massive population shift within the country. In 1954, one million fled from north to south to escape war, famine, and the communist land reform campaign. Many of these refugees went on to flee Vietnam altogether in the 1970s and 1980s, and the experiences of 1954 influenced the later diaspora in other ways as well.
This book reassesses the causes and dynamics of the 1975-92 diaspora. It begins with a discussion of Vietnam from 1939 to 1954, then looks closely at the 1954 « Operation Exodus » and the subsequent resettlements. From here the focus turns to the later events that drove hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese to flee their homeland in 1975 and the years that followed. Planning for escape, choosing routes, facing pirates at sea, and surviving the refugee camps are among the many topics covered. Stories of individual escapees are provided throughout. The book closes with a look at the struggles and achievements of the resettled Vietnamese. (McFarland book description).
Nghia M. Vo is a Vietnamese-American, helped found the nonprofit Saigon Arts, Culture & Education Institute, and has written multiple books on Vietnamese culture. He lives in Virginia. He strives to document Vietnamese-American culture through conferences, publications and a website www.sacei07.org. He is also the author of The Bamboo Gulag: Political Imprisonment in Communist Vietnam (McFarland 2004).
Réf. : Nghia M. Vo, The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975-1992, Jefferson, NC – London, McFarland, 2006, 208 p.
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Concise history of Vietnamese Refugees, by Smallchief, 06/04/2007
This is a clear, readable, and concise book about Vietnamese refugees. There have been a large number of books on this subject, but this is one of the better and more complete ones I have encountered.
The author begins with a subject neglected by many authors — a description of the refugee flight that came about as a result of the French defeat and the Communist takeover of North Vietnam in 1954. About one million people fled North Vietnam at that time. He then jumps forward 20 years to an account of the many different phases of the 1975-1992 humanitarian crisis — and crisis it was — beginning as a consequence of the defeat of the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese government in 1975. Throughout the narrative, he mixes in the personal stories of individuals escaping from Communism, their life in the refugee camps, and their later experiences in the United States. Finally, he describes the refugee policies of the countries who hosted and helped — sometimes reluctantly — Vietnamese refugees: the United States, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Canada, Australia, and others.
The author draws most of his material from previously published books, but his insights often have a interesting twist of their own, perhaps because the author himself is Vietnamese, experienced some of the events he describes, and reflects the view — very anti-communist — of many in the American Vietnamese community.
Memories become history, by Viet Reader, 07/04/2007
I lived through all the periods of Vietnamese history mentioned in the book. I witnessed (as a child) the 1954 exodus from the North, the 1975 event leading to the concentration camps, the exodus of the boat people from Vietnam and their life outside of Vietnam. It’s quite an extraordinary and pleasant experience for me to read « The Vietnamese Boat People ». It’s like being led on an instructive tour to your own hometown, guided by a scholarly (and surgeon) friend who writes English in a way very few of us can, to revisit familiar places that you thought you have always known so well, only to find out that there are a lot of new things and perspectives about your own past and your country’s past. With the book,my own eclectic, personal pieces of memory seem to find their place in the jigsaw puzzle. It may help former refugees like myself, and hopefully our English speaking progeny, find a sense of meaning and purpose from our turbulent and traumatic past. For some of us, this may also provide some relief from lingering guilts and regrets about our past lost cause, and maybe, a sense of closure necessary to start a new chapter for our life and for our former country that still stays behind in every way.
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