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It should be noted that even prior to the events mentioned above Vietnam had a long history of struggling for its independence. Our country Dai Viet has long since been a land of old culture With its own rivers and mountains, ways and customs Different from those of the North i. Chinese dynasties We have known both days of greatness and times of decline But never have we lacked heroes.

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The heroes she would have learned of in school included not only men but also the Trung sisters who chased out the Chinese in 43 AD and ruled for three years, and Lady Trieu who routed the Chinese army in All three are depicted leading the charge to battle seated astride elephants. She would have learned of Ngo Quyen and the Battle of the Bach Dang River as the end of roughly a thousand years of Chinese colonization; she would have learned of the feudal dynasties that spanned the 11th through the 19th centuries—the Ly, Tran, Le, and Nguyen—and of such early heroes against the French as Phan Boi Chau and Phan Chu Trinh.

In school she would also have learned of the victory against the French at Dien Bien Phu, the result of months of battle in a rugged mountainous border region that ended French colonization in Vietnam and inspired resistance throughout the French empire. But she may also have had more direct experience of this moment as well: In the two years before she volunteered to go south she would have experienced American bombing of the north and learned of American ground troops in the south. In addition to the events she would have experienced and those she would have learned about in school, Dang Thuy Tram would have likely also been buoyed by a Marxist attitude towards history, which would have told her she was on the right side of History with a capital H, a force that advanced according to laws that favored the rise of the common people and the overthrow of privilege, exploitation, and imperialism.

Readings in history and anthropology There are thousands of books on the history of the 20th Century wars in Vietnam, and a few on earlier periods as well. The following short list may serve as a starting place. Nationalism and Revolution in a Divided Vietnam. The United States and Vietnam, Revolution in the Village: Tradition and Transformations in North Vietnam, University of Hawaii Press. University of California Press. Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, Nhung Tuyet Tran and Anthony Reid.

The University of Wisconsin Press. Collected essays on histories of Vietnam through the First world War, and reflections on the uses of history. The Birth of Vietnam. The history of Vietnam from its mythic origins in the marriage of the Dragon and the Fairy through independence from the Chinese empire in the 10th century. Essays into Vietnamese Pasts. A collection of essays on various points of Vietnamese history, from mythic times to the early 20th Century. Reading the Diaries Classroom discussion of Vietnam often revolves around a discussion of the war framed in political and military terms.

The materiel advantages were heavily on the side of the Americans and their Saigon allies. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace offers a window into the spirit that fueled that steadfast resistance. It also offers a sense of shared humanity, a humanity that longs for an end to the losses and pain of war.

An extraordinary diary from 'The Vietnamese Anne Frank', now in paperback

The book makes a useful companion to historical accounts of the war in Vietnam, and joins a few classic works that have been produced in the midst of war, such as The Diary of Anne Frank. It may be useful to think of the book both as poetry with lines to be savored and pondered and as a document to be analyzed and understood. Before you begin reading, write a page or two of reflection on these, or make an annotated list that you can refer back to when you have finished the book.

In what ways were your predictions accurate or inaccurate?

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What else did you discover about politics and culture through your reading? How is reading a diary different from reading a novel? How is it different from reading a formal history? What can be said about the truth claims of each of these genres? Predict some of the frustrations and some of the pleasures you may find in reading a diary compared to reading a novel or a history. Exercises for seeing the world through the eyes of Dang Thuy Tram 1. Dang Thuy Tram uses familiar words in ways that are sometimes unfamiliar; the connotations of her words might strike you as unexpected or unusual.

Choose one of the words below, or another that catches your attention, and keep a record of how she uses it throughout the book. A teacher might divide up the words among students, and then have them compare findings.

What experiences has Dang Thuy Tram had that you have not? What experiences have you had that Dang Thuy Tram did not have? What would you like to ask her if you could have a conversation with her?

What do you imagine she might like to ask you? Enumerate the losses she encountered during the course of this diary. Compare them to losses you have experienced. What does she mean by this? How do you nurture yours? What readings, song lyrics, or movies influence your life? Keep a diary for as much time as possible. One or two days are sufficient, but a week is even better. Think both of the content and the tone of your writing. How would people today stack up?

How would you answer his questions? Remember that she was writing at a time different in many ways from the present moment. In what ways was her experience quite different? He compares their fervor to the sort of belief found only in religion, saying that going to war was not only a duty but a wish, the dream of their group of friends. Rob Whitehurst, who worked on a translation of the diaries his brother saved from the fire, insists: Reflect on the possibilities and limits of writing as a means of transmitting the human spirit.

Questions of war and peace 1. Why do people go to war? Why do they fight? Consider both patriotic and personal reasons. Do you know anyone who has fought in a war? What reasons did they have for going to war? What do they think about those reasons now? How was the war they fought in similar to and different from the war in which Dang Thuy Tram fought?

What reasons did Dang Thuy Tram give for going to war? For what reasons was Dang Thuy Tram willing to sacrifice her life? Do you know people who are in some way sacrificing for a cause they believe in? While most of her diary is reflection, from time to time Thuy gives us glimpses of the physical context of war.

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Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram

Reconstruct a description of this context based on the diary. You cannot get it back, and Dang Thuy Tram describes so deeply what that thing is…. And a bullet went right through her forehead and in that instant, she was gone. Can we think of another way to do this?

Last night I dreamed of peace : an extraordinary diary of courage from the Vietnam War

How do you account for the differences, and for the similarities? Comparison is frequently made between the war in Vietnam and the wars in Iraq. Can you find diaries or other writings from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? This delay may be understood in part by the explanation given in the introduction to the book.

Yet it is not uncommon for the trauma of war to cause amnesia, disruptions, and silences that linger on for decades. The anthropologist Michael Jackson suggests storytelling as a way to unfreeze the present from where it is stuck in past trauma. Do you think these diaries might serve such a purpose? Why or why not? Americans sometimes talk about the war in Viet Nam as a war between North and South. Values and relationships 1. Comment on the general argument made by this account. Institute for Global Engagement: To give but one example: A love as deep and immense as the ocean, a love that surges like frothing waves, passionate, pure.

People in frequent contact with each other in a group often speak to each other in pronouns that reflect family relationship and rank, eg: You may find it helpful to trace some of these relationships individually through the pages of the book to see their development. What limits does she put on these relationships? What is their importance in the context of war? Write a reflection paper on one, or a cluster, of passages that reveal ideals that you would like to consider more deeply. Could anything make one prouder than to be part of this family of revolutionaries?

Thuy often gives advice to herself. Does the advice seem appropriate? His brother translated it and so began an odyssey that took 35 years, to find Thuy Tram's family in Vietnam, and return the small brown book to them.

Last night I dreamed of peace : an extraordinary diary of courage from the Vietnam War

Remarkably, in , Fred Whitehurst tracked down the young doctor's mother who graciously accepted it from this former GI who, as a result, was able to complete his own journey of reconciliation after years of bitterness as a Vietnam vet. Raw with human emotions and unvarnished by government propaganda. Raw emotion is manifest in the diary. This is an important and profoundly moving book, which redresses the one-sided macho and gun-toting coverage of the Vietnam War. Written in a simple but powerful style, it reminds war veterans of their sacrifices and educates a new generation - born after the war's end - about the hardships their elders faced.


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