A RARE CLOMPSE INTO THE SOUL OF VIT NAM
In her deeply moving memoir of Viet Nam, Lady Borton presents the "American war" from the view of the courageous peasants on the ground, underneath the B-52's and Agent Orange-stripped trees. Their extraordinary stories are of a kind we have not heard before: stories of women who smuggled weapons under vats of fish sauce, concocted camouflage from banana leaves, dug tunnels, carried messages through enemy territory, gave away their children to keep them safe, all the while tending to the daily work of village life-providing food, burying and visiting the dead, and observing religious holidays. Drawing on twenty-five years of work in Viet Nam, Borton achieves an unprecedented intimacy with its people and lets their voices set the tone of conciliation and renewal. Without calling attention to herself, Borton-the first westerner allowed to live in a Vietnamese village since the war's end-suffuses her account with a deep respect for all those we left behind.
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From Publishers Weekly:
LADY BORTON is the author of Sensing the Enemy, a memoir of her work in a refugee camp for the Vietnamese boat people. She was the person who escorted the first journalists to the scene of the massacre at My Lai. Formerly the field director of Quaker Service-Viet Nam in Hanoi, she now lives on a small farm in Milfield, Ohio.
As an administrator for the Friends Service Committee in Quang Ngai Province, Borton (Sensing the Enemy: An American Among the Boat People of Vietnam) was one of the few Americans to work in both South and North Vietnam during the war. Much later, 1987-1993, she lived in Vietnamese villages, including a former Viet Cong base where women played a prominent role during the war. Her beautifully modulated memoir is less about the war itself than about the unique character of the village women: their formalized social interaction, use of traditional medicine, food-gathering and preparation and the Buddhist beliefs that guide their behavior. Borton's gently compelling narrative follows the rhythm of the seasons and weather patterns and records the jarring advent of Western-style consumerism with the appearance of jeans, tennis shoes, motorcycles and VCRs. Describing her life in Hanoi ("Vietnam's largest village"), where in 1990 she opened a Quaker Service office, she conveys her great affection for its hurly-burly pace. The author conversed with Vietnamese women fluently in their own language and thus is able to present fuller portraits than could be found elsewhere in English. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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