[un articolo in italiano a seguire tra pochi giorni]
The first thing I've noticed about this book is a good-quality paper. Crisp white. I guess it's made to last, it shows the will to make this testimonial reach as far as possible. South Vietnamese Soldiers, written by Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen, is a collection of memories of war and "after." Yes, after the Vietnam War these people had another fight, another odyssey to endure. We're talking about the most disparaged army in the world, the soldiers who fought for the "puppet" Vietnam regime. The book is about personal stories: many officers, some common soldiers (and some women) in the military, the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam), the Navy, and the Air Force.
South Vietnamese armed forces did not start very well. During the French colonial period, they were a complement of the French Expeditionary Corps, made of parachutists, the Foreign Legion, colonial troops, and other French volunteer troops. So the Vietnamese National Army was influenced by its colonial masters and some troops were ineffective, many officers more interested in politics than in the fighting. With the exception of a small club of elite units or specialists (pilots, etc.) the soldiers were more interested in being paid than in the war against the communists, and there were training deficiencies. Many of these problems were destined to remain in the new armed forces of the South Vietnamese state, reorganized under USA military and political influence (and money too) after the division of Vietnam into two separate nations following the French defeat. Some of the officers were going to gain notoriety in coups and political struggles more than by military leadership.
Was the new South Vietnamese armed forces' performance any good?