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Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tramby Dang Thuy Tram
Synopses & Reviews
At the age of twenty-four, Dang Thuy Tram volunteered to serve as a doctor in a National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) battlefield hospital in the Quang Ngai Province. Two years later she was killed by American forces not far from where she worked. Written between 1968 and 1970, her diary speaks poignantly of her devotion to family and friends, the horrors of war, her yearning for her high school sweetheart, and her struggle to prove her loyalty to her country. At times raw, at times lyrical and youthfully sentimental, her voice transcends cultures to speak of her dignity and compassion and of her challenges in the face of the wars ceaseless fury.
The American officer who discovered the diary soon after Dr. Trams death was under standing orders to destroy all documents without military value. As he was about to toss it into the flames, his Vietnamese translator said to him, “Dont burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.” Against regulations, the officer preserved the diary and kept it for thirty-five years. In the spring of 2005, a copy made its way to Dr. Trams elderly mother in Hanoi. The diary was soon published in Vietnam, causing a national sensation. Never before had there been such a vivid and personal account of the long ordeal that had consumed the nations previous generations.
Translated by Andrew X. Pham and with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Frances FitzGerald, Last Night I Dreamed of Peace is an extraordinary document that narrates one womans personal and political struggles. Above all, it is a story of hope in the most dire of circumstances—told from the perspective of our historic enemy but universal in its power to celebrate and mourn the fragility of human life.
"'In 1970, while sifting through war documents in Vietnam, Fred Whitehurst, an American lawyer serving with a military intelligence dispatch, found a diary no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, its pages handsewn together. Written between 1968 and '70 by Tram, a young, passionate doctor who served on the front lines, it chronicled the strife she witnessed until the day she was shot by American soldiers earlier that year at age 27. Whitehurst, who was greatly moved by the diary and smuggled it out of the country, returned it to Thuy's family in 2005; soon after, it was published as a book in Vietnam, selling nearly half a million copies within a year and a half. The diary is valuable for the perspective it offers on war — Thuy is not obsessed with military maneuvers but rather the damage, both physical and emotional, that the war is inflicting on her country. Thuy also speaks poignantly about her patients and the compassion she feels for them. Unfortunately, the writing, composed largely of breathless questions and exclamations, is monotonous at times, somewhat diminishing the book's power. (Sept.)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Born in Hanoi, DANG THUY TRAM was a Vietnamese doctor who tended civilians as well as Viet Cong soldiers. She died in 1970 at the age of twenty-seven. To learn more about Dang Thuy Tram and how her diary came to be published, visit www.ThuyTram.com.
Andrew X. Pham is the author of Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam and the forthcoming The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars. He is the recipient of the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Prize.
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