This book is indeed what most critics say that it is: an ambitious, sprawling saga, paralleling the life and history of one family with the history of Vietnam in the last 130 years. And it does make fascinating reading. However, one other critic rightly made the point that this history is limited to the upper-middle-class, with very little on the rest - the farmers, the urban working class, the fighting soldiers, the intelligentsia. To which I will add: the view Mai Elliott gives of the sweeping events her family lived through was in fact rather comprehensive as long as it took place in the North, where she was born. Once the family moved South to Saigon, they pretty much kept to themselves and were out of the loop as far as decision-making was concerned (whereas ther father had been Governor of Haiphong and right there in the thick of things in the North). Being myself a Southerner Vietnamese, I do admit that, in general, the refugees from the North were not made warmly welcome. But some did reach out and eventually made friends, which the Duong family does not seem to have done. When they were still high officials in the North, the Duongs were influential and knew almost every aspect of what was going on. Once in the South, they were pretty much out of the loop, and Mai falls back on sweeping generalizations based on prejudices and hearsay, like "the Southern landowners were absently landlords who lived it up in Saigon, leaving their lands to caretakers". Being myself from a landowning family, I can vouch that that was far from true. Same thing about the South Vietnamese armed forces and the contempt in which they were supposedly held by their American allies. Would Tiger Woods' father have named him after a South Vietnamese Ranger if he despised him and his companions as cowards? She also fails to note that, very often, a South Vietnamese military operation would fail because Americans would not listen to their SVN counterparts, thinking they knew better. And Mai was so busy interviewing VC prisoners of war and trying to understand them that she never took the time to find out what the South Vietnamese working class, farmers, and fighting men, were like. Or why they stuck with a "corrupt" and "tyrannical" government, not to mention nasty imperialist Americans without rising up and going to the other side. Her account of the fall of Saigon and its aftermath is told solely from the point of view of her relatives who stayed there, or other former Northern refugees, and from a strictly "bleeding-heart liberal" perspective. General Loan is stigmatized when he shot a VC in public (he had heard that very day that the VCs had massacred a whole bunch of his relatives), but widespread cases of the so-called Liberation Army summarily shooting thieves in the street is related without so much as a metaphorically raised eybrow. There is no mention whatsoever of the South Vietnamese underground resistance that went on for over 10 years after Saigon fell, and only a grudging, one-sentence acknowledgement of "acts of heroism" by the South Vietnamese army and people. Her extensive bibliography is limited to North Vietnamese and American books, magazines and papers when she could have gained a different insight from books or articles by South Vietnamese or French writers and journalists, among others "The Vietnamese Gulag" by a South Vietnamese who stayed on after the "liberation" to help rebuild the country. I still recommend the book as an interesting work, giving a perspective that Americans in general have not seen - the "Vietnam War" viewed from the point of view of a Vietnamese family. But for that, Le Ly Hayslip's "When Heaven and Earth Changed Places" was closer to the people - and Mai Elliott's point of view is only that of a small part of Vietnam. But do read it anyway. You will still gain facts and insights you did not get before.