In the Jaws of History Book Review

In the Jaws of History Book Review

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The aim of this book by Bui Diem with David Chanoff is to present the Vietnam War told from a South Vietnamese perspective. The large-scale scope of the work concerns the fighting between North and South Vietnam over which party would run the country and wanting to become an independent state free from the Western powers. Diem's memoir contains in-depth details about his life and politics in Vietnam in 1940-1975. The book serves as a primary source in documenting the events in Vietnam during the war and as an autobiography of Diem's life. The purpose of this book is to give insight of the war through Diem's eyes and how it affected his life.

A significant aspect of the book is that the book is an autobiography of Diem's life. When the story begins, Diem is in the United States in Washington, D.C. watching television, "mesmerized by the tragedy playing itself out on the screen" of what was going on in Vietnam (Diem, 10). After this introduction mentions how he was cut off from all communication from his government and watching the war develop on television, the book starts of from when he was teenager in school and how he was introduced to the different parties involved in the well being of Vietnam.

The book goes through every year of his life up to 1975. It describes how he slowly worked his way up the ladder of key roles in the politics in Vietnam. Diem was a nationalist but he served under the communist party and put his faith in many different leaders throughout the years. Eventually he became an important asset to Vietnam by going to the United States with his wife and his kids to try to help his country from Washington, D.C. He was serving as a consultant on Vietnam affairs in Washington, D.C. to highest government officials to help give the United States insight on how to go about intervening in Vietnam He covers each important event in his life to give insight how on his life progressed up to 1975.

One weakness of the book is how David Chanoff is mentioned as a co-author of the book. The book covers the Vietnam War and Diem's life during this time. The book is entirely from Diem's perspective and his words. Throughout the book, there is no indication of Chanoff presence in writing in the book or his words.

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The book seems to be completely written by Diem. It gives insight on how the Vietnamese people viewed the United States during the war and the role we played in the war but the American Chanoff is not mentioned.

Chanoff could be viewed as a translator or an editor of the book, but it is kind of obvious that Diem was capable of writing his own book without an English translator. If he were an editor of the book, it would have mentioned this on the title page or the cover of the book. The title, In the Jaws of History, describes Diem's life being surrounding by the history taking place in Vietnam not Chanoff's life. The book is not a history textbook whereas a textbook contains a list of many authors and just gives facts on the history being discussed and this is not the case for this book. This book is a primary source and therefore each author insight should be seen clearly throughout the work.

The set up presents an autobiography of Diem's life during the Vietnam War. It gives insight into the Vietnam War from a South Vietnamese perspective on the Vietnam War and how it affects his life. The author's purpose is to provide memoir of the historical events taking place in Vietnam, dealings with the United States, and how it affected his life. Anyone who is interested in learning about the Vietnam War from a South Vietnam perspective should strongly consider Diem's memoirs.

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