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Escape from Saigon


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About the Author

Andrea Warren 's own daughter is one of the 2,300 orphans rescued by Operation Babylift. She is the author of Surviving Hitler, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, and Orphan Train Rider, which received the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. She lives in Prairie Village, Kansas.


Gr 5-9-Warren relates the story of the 1975 Operation Babylift as seen through the eyes of Long, an eight-year-old Amerasian boy who was part of the airlift. The author uses narrative and reconstructions of conversations from interviews with those involved to trace Long's life, beginning with his indistinct memories of his American father and his more vivid recollections of his Vietnamese mother's suicide and his grandmother's struggle to protect and support him during wartime. She describes his stay at the Saigon orphanage operated by Holt International Children's Services, which housed, schooled, and arranged for his adoption by an American family. Long recalls the fear and excitement during the fall of Saigon, his journey out of Vietnam, his sorrow at the separation from his grandmother, and his emotional transition to his new identity as Matt Steiner. The book concludes with a moving account of Matt's 1995 return to Vietnam, where he finally understood the magnitude of the sacrifice his grandmother made for his safety and future. Photos of Long in both Vietnam and America illustrate the text. Although Warren mentions the cruelties of the communist Vietnamese government and America's abandonment of its South Vietnamese allies, this is a personal story, one that is so well written that it will be sure to hold readers' attention. An outstanding choice.-Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, MO Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Warren's (Orphan Train Rider) compelling, emotionally charged account focuses on Long, a boy born in 1966 in a small village in South Vietnam (to a Vietnamese mother and "an unknown American father"). Like the author's daughter, Long was one of 2,300 Vietnamese orphans whom Operation Babylift brought to the U.S. The author mines the child's memories to create a sense of his early years in Vietnam, and the impact of war and scarcity on his family. Some of the details may disturb more sensitive readers: Long wakened next to his mother's body after her suicide, and the boy lived with his grandmother until, no longer able to care for him she took him on his seventh birthday to Saigon's Holt Center, whose mission was to help place orphans with American families. The volume contains bright and even heroic moments: Warren describes the boy's relatively comfortable if lonely life at the Center, universal childhood experiences such as a fascination with learning to ride a bike, and the painstaking process of evacuating the orphans to America just before Saigon's fall in 1975. The narrative incorporates much sobering information, including the crash of the first Operation Babylift flight soon after takeoff. The tone of the tale brightens as Warren anecdotally writes of Long's adaptation to American life as a member of the Steiner family of Ohio. Dramatic accounts of other Vietnamese and American people's escape from Saigon on the eve of its collapse plus numerous b&w photos round out this informative book and help bring into clear focus the Vietnam War's effects on children. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"Always true to a child's viewpoint, Warren's clear narrative, with many documentary photos, begins as a boy struggles to survive in Vietnam...The child-at-war story and the facts about the Operation Babylift rescue are tense and exciting...fascinating." -- Starred, "Booklist"
"Lavishly illustrated with archival photographs, the narrative is interspersed with just the right amount of war history, never losing the focus on Long and his experiences and ratcheting up the emotional intensity as he lifts off from Vietnam and lands in Chicago."" --Kirkus Reviews"
"Warren deftly weaves into Long's story information about the Vietnam conflict, life in Saigon, the plight of children during war, and the political machinations involved in airlifting thousands of youngsters to safety during the American evacuation." -- "The Horn Book"
"This is a personal story, one so well written that it will be sure to hold readers' attention. An outstanding choice." -- "School Library Journal"
"Compelling." -- "Publishers Weekly"
"Well written and filled with many poignant and heart-wrenching photos from the era, this biography will evoke both discussion and contemplation among young teens." -- "VOYA "

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