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While television accounts of war and civil strife tend to devote substantial time to the plight of the helpless civilian, published accounts largely concentrate on the military and political aspects of the fighting, relegating the civil sector to token treatment. McKelvey, a former Marine Corps officer who served in Vietnam, offers an account of one largely forgotten aspect of the non-military side of that war. All the children born out of liaisons between American servicemen and Vietnamese women. Now adults, they have spent their lives caught between two societies whose racial and cultural practices have left many of them emotionally shattered. McKelvey, a child psychiatrist at the Oregon Health Sciences University, provides a psychological overview as he narrates the extraordinary problems these folks faced as children and adults. He covers the Amerasian experience in both Vietnam and the United States and concludes with an emotional chapter on a few attempts to locate American fathers. A useful introduction to a neglected subject. Recommended for academic and public libraries. AJohn R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

The Dust of Life is a collection of vivid and devastating oral histories of Vietnamese Amerasians. Abandoned during the war by their American fathers, discriminated against by the victorious Communists, and ignored for many years by the American government, they endured life in impoverished Vietnam. Their stories are sad, sometimes tragic, but they are also testimonials to human resiliency.Robert McKelvey is a former marine who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s. Now a child psychiatrist, he returned to Vietnam in 1990 to begin the long series of interviews that resulted in this book. While allowing his subjects to speak for themselves, McKelvey has organized their narratives around themes common to their lives: early maternal loss, the experience of prejudice and discrimination, coping with adversity, dealing with shattered hopes for the future, and, for some, adapting to the alien environment of the United States.

While unique in many respects, the Vietnamese Amerasian story also illustrates themes that are tragically universal: neglect of the human by-products of war, the destructiveness of prejudice and racism, the pain of abandonment, and the horrors of life amidst extreme poverty, hostility, and neglect.

By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

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