Finished reading on February 24th, 2014
This almost 800-page book took me several months to get through and not because it would have been boring (although it made me fall asleep on several occasions), but because you wouldn’t want to progress too fast with this book, as the time/span for this book is about 60 years and it is sad when characters in a book grow and change too fast while you’re reading.
In “Saigon” we first meet the Sherman family who are on their way to Vietnam for a hunting trip. We meet Senator Sherman with his two sons Chuck and Joseph and the senators wife.
This first trip to Vietnam is what sets in motion events for the rest of the book for the Sherman family, although not everything is about these four Shermans, since as time goes by some die and some more are born and have to deal with the cruel reality and mostly all of the family-members will have something to do with Vietnam.
The book starts when Vietnam is still called Annam and is a colony of France. Because of that we find out a little about what went on at the time, why was Annam a necessary colony for France and did the “annamese” benefit from it…
Throughout the book there are several shocking and violent scenes as there are uprisings in Vietnam, that are dealt with a heavy hand, as the French are not about to give power to the natives. Later when the Second world war begins we find out more about what is going on there and also about how the united states got involved in Vietnam that also leads up to the Vietnam war.
The book is very interesting, as you can see the situation from a western perspective as well as from the perspective of Vietnam, since a lot of the book follows the doings of Joseph Sherman who spends a lot of time working in Vietnam as a foreign correspondent and his life is tragically intertwined with the history and people of Vietnam.
All in all I really liked the book although it’s definitely not a happy book.
I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.