The Sacred Willow

The Sacred Willow : Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family

3.76 (325 ratings by Goodreads)
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Duong Van Mai Elliott's The Sacred Willow, an extraordinary narrative woven from the lives of four generations of her family, illuminates fascinating - and until now unexplored - strands of Vietnamese history. Beginning with her great-grandfather, who rose from rural poverty to become an influential mandarin, and continuing to the present, Mai Elliott traces her family's journey through an era of tumultuous change. She tells us of childhood hours in her grandmother's silk shop - and of hiding while French troops torched her village, watching blossoms torn by fire from the trees flutter "like hundreds of butterflies" overhead. She reveals the agonizing choices that split Vietnamese families: her eldest sister left her staunchly anti-communist home to join the Viet Minh, and spent months sleeping with her infant son in jungle camps, fearing air raids by day and tigers by night. And she follows several family members through the last, desperate hours of the fall of Saigon - including one nephew who tried to escape by grabbing the skid of a departing American helicopter.Based on family papers, dozens of interviews, and a wealth of other research, this is not only a memorable family saga, but a record of how the Vietnamese themselves have experienced their times. At times haunting, at times heartbreaking - it is always mesmerizing - The Sacred Willow will forever change how we view the history of Vietnam and our own role in more

Product details

  • Paperback | 544 pages
  • 154.94 x 233.68 x 45.72mm | 771.1g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2nd Revised ed.
  • Ill.3M.
  • 0195137876
  • 9780195137873
  • 108,733

About Duong Van Mai Elliott

Mai Elliott was born and raised in Vietnam and attended Georgetown University on a scholarship. She lived in Vietnam again from 1963 to 1968 and worked for the Rand Corporation interviewing Viet Cong prisoners of war. She returned to the U.S. in 1968 and now lives in more

Review quote

An extraordinary narrative S Dean Powell, Western Mail 10/03/01show more

Review Text

Following in the tracks of Wild Swans comes a four-generation story from Vietnam. This book opens wide the country's cultural and political history of the past 100 years - including French colonization, the rise of communism in place of Confucianism and the war of the 1960s - through the case study of one family. The title likens the Vietnamese people to the willow tree, which bends with the wind, but remains unbroken. The author was born in Vietnam, and returned to live there from 1963 to 1968, working with Viet Cong prisoners of war. A readable and compelling book. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

325 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 28% (90)
4 33% (108)
3 30% (97)
2 6% (20)
1 3% (10)
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