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Aftershocks
The Vietnam
War Comes
Home
On an unseasonably hot, muggy April afternoon in 1977, former marine and combat veteran Louis Koren encountered a teenaged girl. She was Vietnamese -- the daughter of a Saigonese intellectual, and a refugee from the 1975 collapse of South Vietnam. But in the mind of Louis Koren, reeling in a long psychotic tailspin, young Le My Hanh was the enemy. Believing he was back in Vietnam, Koren interrogated her. Then, he raped and strangled her in a quiet Queens, New York neighborhood, a world away from Southeast Asia and years after the cease fire. Another casualty of war was added to the tragic toll.
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Aftershocks explores the facts behind the immediate tragedy. It is a compassionate and compelling journey into the lives of two families -- one American, one Vietnamese -- who were swept by the horror of war along paths that finally intersected in a shattering moment of violence.

The product of a disintegrating neighborhood and a turbulent family, Louis Koren enlisted in the Marines in 1964. In a combat platoon near the DMZ, he learned to kill on search and destroy missions, interrogate prisoners, and survive the harsh landscape of war -- the minefields, the boobytraps, the snipers, and the ever-present stench of death. He came back to America to join the ranks of returned veterans, ostracized by doves and hawks alike. Louis Koren became a prisoner of his own past, unable to forget his horrifying months of combat, unable to shake his rage, unable to reach out for help.
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Le Thanh Hoang Dan, a bespectacled philosophy professor at the University of Saigon, grew up, married My Chau and raised his family in the shadow of war. In 1975, as South Vietnamese society was crumbling around them, they were offered escape, and a new start. Propelled to their fateful decision by their enthusiastic eldest daughter, Le My Hanh, the family joined the airlift. "To her," her father says, "the U.S. was everything." Having survived the war, and its last grueling days, the Vietnamese family, now refugees, faced the ordeal of building a new life among strangers.
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Aftershocks recreates with remarkable precision the entire spectrum of emotions that tore America apart during its years of agony, and lays bare the residue of guilt which continues to haunt us. Bain's powerful account of the human tragedy holds both veteran and refugee in its embrace. It will be classed with Friendly Fire, Born on the Fourth of July, and Dispatches, as a brilliant and sensitive confrontation with a recent past that cannot be left behind.
"Heartbreaking, sane, intelligent." ––*Kirkus Reviews

"Meticulously documented...with resonances beyond the narrow subject, his reportage amplifies and human cost of a long, hellish conflict." ––People

"Compelling...Aftershocks remains a testament of the horrors of war and, by implication, the guilt of a nation...Bain's message comes across as clearly as the taps of a bugle -- the war is not over." ––Los Angeles Times

"Stunning...written in a style that is compelling, lucid and free or irony or cynicism. Bain has the touch and sympathies of the novelist, but also the unblinking sensibility of the historian...His brilliant first effort is shocking, human, and inexpressibly tragic. He has given us a warning that we cannot bury the past as easily as the victims." ––Baltimore Sun

"David Haward Bain...envisioned a deeper story on the tragedy of Vietnam, in the manner of C.D.B.Bryan's Friendly Fire or David Rabe's post-Vietnam plays...[He} discovered in doing his research that all concerned, including prosecuting and defense attorneys, spoke candidly because they recognized that without the war such a tragedy would never have occurred." ––Herbert Mitgang, New York Times

"A humane work with an intelligent theme." ––Newsday

"The book reminds us, as did Robert Jay Lifton's Home from the War, that war does not end when the soldiers come home." ––Library Journal

"A conscientiously prepared reconstruction." ––ALA Booklist


"Vivid, brilliant...It's a fascinating clinical examination of one example of how society actively fosters one form of behavior as good at one place and time, and later decries and punishes that behavior when it rebounds, for various reasons, in another place and time." ––Houston Chronicle

"An incredible story brilliantly told." ––Mary Helen McPhilips, WOR-TV

"Deserves wide attention. Bain is at his best when re-creating Louis Koren's Vietnamese experiences; some of these parts of the book, for acrid grittiness, are in the same league with Michael Herr's Dispatches." ––Minneapolis Tribune

"I'm impressed with David Bain's Aftershocks. It provides another fascinating glimpse into the Vietnam torment: a particular story told in affecting human terms. It's coherent, substantial journalism and warrants reading." ––MICHAEL J. ARLEN
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