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Mourning Headband for Hue


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Table of Contents

Note on Translation
Translator's Introduction
Small Preface: Writing to Admit Guilt
1. First Hours
2. The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
3. Hodge-podge
4. On a Boat Trip
5. A Person from Tu Dam Comes Back and Tells His Story
6. Going Back into the Hell of the Fighting
7. Story from the Citadel
8. Returning to the Old House
9. A Dog in Midstream
10. Little Child of, Hue Little Child of Vietnam, I Wish You Luck!

Promotional Information

Bronze Winner, 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, War & Military2015 AAUP Public and Secondary School Library Selection

About the Author

Nha Ca, meaning a "courteous, elegant song" or "canticle" in Vietnamese, is the penname of one of the most famous South Vietnamese writers of the second half of the 20th century, whose real name is Tran Th Thu Van. She was born in Hue in 1939 and spent her youth there before moving to Saigon where she became a popular and prolific writer and poet. Initially her works focused on love but starting from the mid-1960s in many of her works she began to describe the fighting, atrocities, and suffering inflicted by the war that was ravaging her country. The most significant and famous of these works is Mourning Headband for Hue, which describes the experience of Vietnamese civilians in Hue during the Tet Offensive. This work was one of the winners of South Vietnam's Presidential Literary Award. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Communist authorities put Nha Ca into a prison camp where she remained from 1976 to 1977. Her husband, the poet Tran Da Tu, was jailed for twelve years. In 1989, a year after he was released from prison, the couple and their family received political asylum from the Swedish government. Later they moved to the United States and now live in Southern California, where they publish the Vietnamese-language newspaper Viet Bao. Born and raised in Leningrad, USSR, Olga Dror received an MA in Oriental studies from Leningrad State University in 1987 and later pursued an advanced degree from the Institute for Linguistic Studies in the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. She worked for Radio Moscow's Department of Broadcasting to Vietnam. In 1990 she immigrated to Israel, studied international relations at Hebrew University, and worked for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its embassy in Riga, Latvia, from 1994 to 1996. She continued her study of Vietnam and earned a PhD from Cornell University in 2003. Now an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University, she is author of Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Lieu Hanh in Vietnamese History and editor of two volumes on Vietnamese and Chinese religions. Her current research concerns the identities of Vietnamese children during the war in Vietnam.


"...[A] searing eyewitness account...It makes for an intimate-and disturbing-account of war at its most brutal told from the point of view of civilians trying to survive the maelstrom."

* VVA Veteran *

"Nha Ca relates countless moments of terror she and her extended family members suffered and shares stories told to her by others who faced similarly dire circumstances. It's an intimate-and disturbing-account of war at its most brutal, told from the point of view of civilians trying to survive the maelstrom."

* Publishers Weekly *

"On the whole, scholars will find this memoir invaluable for understanding the American War in Vietnam as an internal civil war between the Vietnamese."

* H-Net Reviews H-War *

"A work of great historical and literary value ideal for use in the classroom, Mourning Headband for Hue highlights overlooked voices and facets of the Vietnam War, meriting inclusion among the classics of wartime fiction."

* Southeast Asian Studies *

"In her translation of A Mourning Headband for Hue, Olga Dror has traversed the terrain of contemporary Vietnamese literature, selected a wonderful gem, Gii Khan So Cho Hu by Nha Ca, and made it accessible to an English readership.... It is simultaneously an account of the experience of civilians trapped in a city under siege and a literary response to the brutalities of war by a leading poet and writer of South Vietnam."

* Journal of Vietnamese Studies *

"To this day, her harrowing account-of war casualties, searches and arrests, ideological purges-generates intense debates about accountability during war time."

* Shelf Awareness *

"The author's narrative burns with firsthand accounts, her own and those of others who shared their stories, as they all were trapped in blasted houses, churches and makeshift shelters, wounded, starving, sick and overrun by the Communists and their squads of vengeful executioners...[A] searing first-person account of the misery of war visited upon her family, neighbors and countrymen, caught in senseless, chaotic horror...A visceral reminder of war's intimate slaughter."

* Kirkus Reviews *

"This is a worthy addition to accounts that help readers understand the Vietnam War.... Highly recommended."

* Choice *

"Mourning Headband for Hue is Nha Ca's searing condemnation of the brutality of war."

* Michigan War Studies Review *

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