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Return to Vietnam

Return to Vietnam (Paperback)

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The photographer and filmmaker Raymond Depardon and the writer Jean-Claude Guillebaud belong to a generation who grew up with the word 'Vietnam' on their lips. As journalists, both had covered the Vietnam War until 1972. after twenty long years - of Stalinism, boat people, Hollywood heroics and French nostalgia - they decided it was time to go back. Vietnam, they believed, was not a story which 'you could simply stop watching and switch off'. They travelled from South to North, from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi, exploring memories of the war and the contradictions of peace, looking and listening with a sensitivity and sense of solidarity all too rare in travel writing. The result is an extraordinary account of a country transformed and of a people, victors and victims together, betrayed on all sides, coming back to life. In Hanoi the find none of the grim austerity imagined by foreigners, but rather a city of beauty now 'opening' to capitalism partly thanks to the experiences and money orders of workers sent in their thousands to Poland of the GDR.

At Khe Sanh, on the bloodiest battlefield of the war, children dig for shrapnel to sell for a cent a kilo; lovers stroll on the beach at De Nang, where the first US troops landed. Loudspeakers in the street still broadcast a litany of production figures, but they are drowned out by Paul Anka and the Everly Brothers. Saigon, the author discover, has easily triumphed over Stalin's murderous economic planning. But it may face a tougher adversary in capitalism, whose grim 'post-communist' programme can be found in a single neon sign: 'Kenwood-HiFi-Stereo-Night-Club-Karaoke-VIP-Room-Discotheque-Saigon-Pub-Health-Centre-Coffee-Shop'. As rich in political perceptions as it is in memorable images, Return to Vietnam shatters the myths about a country which the West fought over, flattened and forgot.

Art, Fashion & PhotographyPhotography & photographsPhotographs: collectionsTravel & MapsTravel writing Publisher: Verso Books Publication Date: 18/10/1994 ISBN-13: 9780860916437  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
Availability: To Order. Estimated despatch in 1-3 weeks.  

Jean-Claude Guilleband has been one of Le Monde's leading foreign correspondents for many years and has covered wars in Biafra, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan and Israel. He is the author of a dozen book, including Les jours terribles d'Israel, Les annees orphelines 1968-1978, and Voyage en Oceanie. One of France's greatest photographers, Raymond Depardon won international acclaim for his coverage of the wars in Algeria and Vietnam. A founder of the photo agency Gamma, he went on to become European Vice-President of the Magnum Agency in 1980. He has made a number of award-winning documentaries including Jan Pallach, Numero zero and Reporters (nominated for an Academy Award in 1982) and two feature films, Une femme en Afrique (Cannes Official Selection, 1985) and Le captive du desert (1989). In 1991 he was awarded the Grand Prix National for photography. John Simmons, the translator, is a journalist and the author of several novels, including Midnight Walking and The Sharing. He lives in New York and Paris.

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