Escape from Communist Heaven

Based on the True Story of Viet Nguyen

By Dennis W. Dunivan
(Sentient Publications, Hardcover, 9781591812296, 392pp.)

Publication Date: September 2013

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Description
For Viet Nguyen, the only thing worse than rules are the people who enforce them. This may not be the best attitude to have in a society that punishes dissent with death. A rebellious teenager is often the main character of young adult fiction, but what makes Viet particularly interesting is that he challenges a system that borders on genocide. Communist tanks advance through Viet s Saigon neighborhood when he is fourteen years old, and overtake the Presidential Palace as American helicopters retreat over the South China Sea. During the frantic evacuation, the American Embassy isn t able to destroy secret files containing the names of South Vietnamese intelligence officers. Viet s father is one of these officers. Within days, the city is infiltrated by communist soldiers who take over public buildings and spies who move into local neighborhoods. To survive, his family must keep a low profile. Viet s life was better during the war. With the Americans gone, he has little hope for freedom and must watch his every step. But his rebellious spirit gets the upper hand and he is arrested in the black market, becoming one of more than a million people in labor camps spread across the jungles of Vietnam. Viet s captors have a dream. When everyone on earth is under their control, they believe, we will have reached Communist Heaven. Many of the prisoners are ex-soldiers. Others are religious leaders, academics and anyone who might provide leadership against the new regime. Tens of thousands of these prisoners die of starvation, malaria and physical beatings. Viet is determined not to be one of them. He uses the same daring that led to his arrest to create a chance to break free. Based on the true story of Viet Nguyen, this novel is about a teenager who makes some mistakes and faces the consequences. To know freedom, he must not only escape from prison, but also from his country."
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