IN LATE AUGUST 1945, with Japan defeated in World War II and its occupation of Vietnam ended, Ho Chi Minh, disease-ridden and fifty-five years old, was carried on a stretcher from his jungle hideout to a house at 48 Hang Ngang in Hanoi. The son of an itinerant teacher u who had worked as an official for the imperial court ... Read More »


“Life is easier if you have a Vietnamese girlfriend,” Dong said. “But my parents are supportive of my relationship with Sarah. Even if we marry. They like Sarah because she is very nice, very polite and she speaks Viet¬namese. And like a good Vietnamese, she is respectful of ciders. “I was a very good boy before we met at a ... Read More »


But in a lean-to, covered by a mosquito net, he found an old woman who peered at him with a glimmer of recognition. Heavy-set with thick glasses, he bore little resemblance to the thirteen-year-old who had left home so long ago. Not until he showed the woman his birthmark—a brown spot on the right side of his neck—did Mrs. Nheh ... Read More »


Nghien was a good student and upon graduating from high school was chosen to study medicine, an honor reserved for no more than a handful of boys. Five years later, in 1966, he became a doctor and took a step crit¬ical for anyone who expected to make career advancements in North Vietnam: He joined the Communist Party. “I thought communism, ... Read More »


Then she saw the first two sons—the two who had been soldiers in the South Vietnamese Army (ARVN)—sloshing up the muddy path to her home. And behind them, sheltered by an umbrella, their older brother, Dr. Nghien, who as a teenager had crossed the Ben Hai River into North Vietnam and spent the war patching the wounded and burying the ... Read More »


FOR A NATION THAT HAS SO often experienced war, Vietnam’s appearance is peculiarly unmilitaristic. Its armed forces—which report directly to the Communist Party, not the prime minister or president—have been trimmed to 600,000, and I seldom saw soldiers in uniform, much less soldiers carrying weapons. In Washington, D.C., where I’d lived before moving to Vietnam, malls and parks and even ... Read More »


By the time Mann returned in 1998 as Australia’s ambassador to Viet¬nam, Hanoi was a different city, tingling with activity and entrepreneurial spirit. Its renaissance was rooted in a single government decision: to fol¬low China’s lead and gradually open up Vietnam’s economy to make room for private enterprise. The decision gave birth to a tourist industry and foreign investment. Western ... Read More »


Everywhere I turned, the streets were alive with energy. No one was idle. People were sawing, welding, jackhammering, repairing, building, lugging, selling, cooking. They arose at 5 A.M., were at work by 7 A.M., and often did not set down their tools until deep into the evening. Everyone seemed to have a purpose. Battered by war, invaded, occupied, colonized, Hanoians ... Read More »


One of my neighbors in Ngu Xa was Mai Van On. He lived in a lake¬side shanty—his home as long as he could remember—with his wife of forty-two years, two unemployed adult sons, and several grandchildren. The house was small and dark with no electricity or running water. On had retired from his factory job on a pension of $18 ... Read More »


Western traders—Dutch, Portuguese, French—began arriving in the early seventeenth century, and hot on their heels came Jesuit missionaries followed by the Paris Foreign Missions. The town fell into decline and the imperial court was moved to Hue. In 1831, Emperor Tu Duc renamed the old capital Hanoi, or “City on the Bend in the River”—ha means “river” and noi means ... Read More »