Titel: Romancing Vietnam Inside the Boat Countr
Verlag: Penguin Putnam, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Near Fine
Auflage: First Edition.
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Our perceptions of Vietnam are heavily determined by American cinema. Films like "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" perpetuate a stereotyped image of the country as a place of war, as an assault course for the American psyche. But what is Vietnam really like? 15 years after the fall of Saigon, Justin Wintle went there to find out. Wintle's journey turned into a double combat: state propaganda had to be resisted as firmly as Western misconceptions - and the authorities were determined Wintle should not leave without appreciating their view of history. He met a plethora of old revolutionaries, including General Diap and Le Duc Tho. He went down the tunnels at Cu Chi, and he visited My Lai. He also visited Binh Hoa, the site of another, unreported massacre. In Saigon, in the "little room of atrocities", he was shown deformed foetuses, the latest victims of US chemical warfare. For a while he was seduced; squatting in a high mountain, Wintle imagined what it must have been like to be a Viet Cong guerilla. His minders became his brothers, their innumerable hangers-on (most memorably at one stage of the journey, the five aunts of one of his drivers) his family. But like all romances, this one is also fraught with disappointment. The Confucian-Leninist regime is shown to be an outmoded ideology that holds back a brave and enterprising people. Drifting between sadness and horror, lyricism and humour, Wintle's journal aims to strip away the myths of Vietnam, and set the country before us in a totally new light.From Kirkus Reviews:
As this tedious first-person account of an extended jaunt through the Socialist Republic of Vietnam attests, not every Englishman is a gifted travel writer. Journalist Wintle (The Financial Times, etc.) spent the last three months of 1989 on a self-imposed assignment to capture ``the real Vietnam,'' i.e., the Communist-ruled nation whose image, he was convinced, had been indelibly blurred by Hollywood's war films. Whatever the merits of his approach, Wintle did not come back with any particularly vivid or valid perspectives. Despite having traversed the dirt-poor SRV from north to south during the dawn of doi moi (an Asian analogue of perestroika), he was able to reach few conclusions. Nor did his closely chaperoned contacts with the likes of Le Duc Tho, General Vo Nguyen Giap, and Vu Ky (Ho Chi Minh's erstwhile secretary) yield him insights, much less a coherent, communicable perception of either where the country is heading or what it's about. The author's chronological narrative focuses on the quotidian frustrations experienced by a Westerner attempting to deal with a closed society's petty bureaucrats. For most readers, a little of this supercilious bosh will go a very long way. Equally unappealing is Wintle's penchant for including a surfeit of trivial detail on his personal reactions and ailments. Among other irksome cases in point, the author reports: ``After lunch I visit the new international shop in Trang Tien Street, to buy a bottle of authentic scotch for tomorrow's office thingy,'' meaning his goodbye party at the Information Ministry in Hanoi. A bad trip to the extent that the tour guide's self-absorption leaves him too little space and time to provide worthwhile commentary on a presumably intriguing land. (Eight pages of humdrum photos, including two of a dour-looking Wintle standing cheek by jowl with indigneous notables.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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