Trần Đình Trụ’s memoir tells the emotionally gripping story of a Vietnamese man who evacuated from Saigon in 1975, but made the dramatic decision to return to Vietnam for his family, rather than resettle in the United States by himself.
In 1975, more than 120,000 Indochinese refugees sought and soon gained resettlement in the United States. Given the chaos of the evacuation, however, approximately 1,500 Vietnamese men and women insisted in no uncertain terms on being repatriated back to Vietnam. Trụ was one of these repatriates.
In order to resolve what was escalating into a crisis, the U.S. government granted the Vietnamese a large ship, the Việt Nam Thương Tín. An experienced naval officer, Trụ became the captain of the ship and sailed the repatriates back to Vietnam in October 1975.
Trụ’s account reveals a hidden history of refugee camps on Guam, internal divisions among Vietnamese refugees, political disputes between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the U.S. government, and the horror of the postwar “re-education” camps. His memoir will be of critical interest to scholars of Asian American studies, Vietnamese and Vietnamese American history, the U.S. war in Vietnam, and memory and agency in the aftermath of a war.
14 b&w illustrations, 3 mapsIntersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies Series
"With its elements of despair, hope, and faith, the memoir has specific poignancy as a narrative in terms of what Joseph Campbell would refer to as the hero’s journey. In this case, the rise, fall, and rise again of one man’s journey to be a “good husband and father.”" –Teri Shaffer Yamada, California State University, Long Beach
"Trụ’s story is told simply. Admirably so. Although the memoir necessarily tells the story from his political point of view, Trần Đình Trụ does not resort to hyperbole. The prose in the translation is elegant and accessible to broad audiences, yet conveys an emotional tenor befitting the story. Ship of Fate adds an important voice to the Vietnam War literature." –Thu-huong Nguyen-vo, University of California, Los Angeles
Author: Tru, Tran Dình; Translator: Tran, Bac Hoai; Lipman, Jana K.;
Trần Đình Trụ
is a former naval commander in the South Vietnamese Navy. He has lived in Texas since 1991.Bac Hoai Tran was a lecturer in Vietnameseat the University of California, Berkeley for more than twenty years,and he is the Vietnamese Language Coordinator of the Southeast AsianStudies Summer Institute (SEASSI) at the University ofWisconsin–Madison.
Jana K. Lipman is associate professor of history at Tulane University.