The Ignorance of Bliss

"This is an extraordinary book. It is the engaging and heart-warming tale based on the recollections of a 10- to 12-year-old American girl’s adventures living in prewar Saigon, Vietnam, where her US Army colonel father was posted as a military advisor—but it is more. In a skillfully crafted page-turner, author Sandy Hanna has painted a captivating picture of the “Paris of the Orient,” as the capital city was known during Vietnam’s life as a French colony. Her portrayal of the aura of Saigon in 1960–62—the sights, sounds, smells, and moods of the place—will be accessible to a wide range of readers, from seasoned world travelers to those for whom faraway lands have remained a mystery. As a US military “brat” who grew up in Europe, Asia, and the US, Ms. Hanna has also produced in this book a sort of tribute to the children of Americans posted overseas, young people who can face obstacles adjusting to new terrain but also have unusual opportunities for learning and growth. For all of these aspects of the book, I greatly enjoyed reading it, but as one who was also raised abroad, the feature of the narrative that gripped me most was the thorough and sensitive coverage of the political and cultural history of Vietnam War. Based on quotations from books and news reports that she intersperses between chapters, as well as confidential documents her father was given by his Vietnamese army counterpart, and her own further research and recollections, Sandy Hanna presents a superb explanation of the causes and missteps leading up to the War, which remains one of the most misunderstood and tragic periods in American history. I highly recommend this book."

Harrison, Amazon Book Review