New book by Les Arbuckle "Saigon Kids"

les arbuckle
Les Arbuckle

An American Military Brat Comes of Age In 1960's Vietnam

In the years just prior to President Johnson's commitment of combat troops to Vietnam, Saigon was a seething maelstrom of political chaos, terrorist violence, religious persecution and civil unrest. In January of 1963, my all-American family and I were thrust into this bizarre environment, moving from a sleepy suburb near Pensacola, Florida to downtown Saigon to join my father, a Navy NCO in charge of the Armed Forces Radio Station (yes, the one from "Good Morning, Vietnam!").

As a rebellious fourteen-year-old military brat, I quickly made new friends at the American Community School. Running from machine gun fire, watching in horror as a Buddhist monk burned to death, visiting brothels late at night, trading currency on the black market -- there was always something weird to do in Saigon and my friends and I explored it all with reckless abandon, much to the consternation of our parents and teachers.

I came of age during the Kennedy era, a time of optimism and hope, when anything was possible. But in Saigon, every ray of hope was followed only by chaos, turmoil, death and destruction.

In spite of the ugliness that was a feature of everyday life, I loved living in Saigon.

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saigon kids book cover