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Children of Hope: The Story of Le Minh Dao
Paperback – March 30, 2022. (Amazon.com)
Reviewed in the United States on June 14, 2023
So excited to know there is a book about Le Minh Dao, a good and competent soldier from Republic of Vietnam's Army Forces. Also impressed by the way his daughter used his recording tapes to write the whole story. But surprisingly and very unfortunately, the author has no knowledge of military matters nor understanding Vietnamese language with which her father recorded his memories.
For military matters, the author could not differentiate a division with a platoon when she translated her father's word sư đoàn (division) in Vietnamese into platoon (tiểu đội) in English. How could only 14 platoons of Viet Cộng take over Saigon in April 1975?! (page 35). For Vietnamese competency, there is a Vietnamese saying, "Giết lầm còn hơn bỏ sót," or "Better killing by mistake than leaving out." But the author ignorantly changed that saying as "Giết bỏ hết, còn hơn bỏ sát," which she translated into English, "Kill them all, it's better than to be killed." (page 17) which was simply nonsense compared to the original saying.
As a reader, I can go on and on. But enough is enough. In fact, Le Minh Dao, a courageous and well-respected General, rightly considered "(Duong Van) Minh is a coward, ignorant, and careless individual. He had the brain of a bird." (page 4).
I wholeheartedly agree with him, and I feel sorry for him. His daughter had good intention to extend his voice specially to the American public. But the result, to me, is only a disservice to him.