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Cover for The Twenty-five Year Century

The Twenty-five Year Century

A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon

Lam Quang Thi


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For Victor Hugo, the nineteenth century could be remembered by only its first two years, which established peace in Europe and France's supremacy on the continent. For General Lam Quang Thi, the twentieth century had only twenty-five years: from 1950 to 1975, during which the Republic of Vietnam and its Army grew up and collapsed with the fall of Saigon. This is the story of those twenty-five years.

General Thi fought in the Indochina War as a battery commander on the side of the French. When Viet Minh aggression began after the Geneva Accords, he served in the nascent Vietnamese National Army, and his career covers this army's entire lifespan. He was deputy commander of the 7th Infantry Division, and in 1965 he assumed command of the 9th Infantry Division. In 1966, at the age of thirty-three, he became one of the youngest generals in the Vietnamese Army. He participated in the Tet Offensive before being removed from the front lines for political reasons. When North Vietnam launched the 1972 Great Offensive, he was brought back to the field and eventually promoted to commander of an Army Corps Task Force along the Demilitarized Zone. With the fall of Saigon, he left Vietnam and emigrated to the United States.

Like his tactics during battle, General Thi pulls no punches in his denunciation of the various regimes of the Republic, and complacency and arrogance toward Vietnam in the policies of both France and the United States. Without lapsing into bitterness, this is finally a tribute to the soldiers who fell on behalf of a good cause.

Praise For The Twenty-five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon

“General Lam Quang Thi is respected among his countrymen, his soldiers, and his American counterparts. The Twenty-five Year Century reflects the experience of the brave men and women who served in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. It is the genuine voice of those who fought for freedom.”--Yung Krall, author of A Thousand Tears Falling
“Readers will find in this book a new perspective on the War in Vietnam from one who helped to create and shape the history. His story—the story of the Republic of Vietnam from the eyes of those in the Republic—has been long neglected by historians of the period.”--Ron Frankum, The Vietnam Archive, Texas Tech University
The Twenty-five Year Century is extremely interesting and most professionally written. It provides a rare and most valuable insight into the war from the perspective of a senior field commander fighting it. It is a major contribution to the literature of the Vietnam conflict, and fills a void in the war’s recorded history that can only be filled by the experiences of someone of Thi’s rank and stature.”--Col. Edward P. Metzner, U.S. Army (ret.), author of More Than a Soldier's War
“General Thi fought for twenty-five years in Vietnam until Saigon fell in 1975, serving with the Vietnamese National Army and commanding the Army Corps Task Force along the Demilitarized Zone. Here he provides a rare and valuable insight into the Vietnam War. Thi strongly counters the prevailing ‘American’ view that the Republic of Vietnam’s government and military were hopelessly corrupt and ineffective. Not everyone will agree with General Thi’s viewpoint, but everyone will have to factor it into his own analysis of the Vietnam War.”--John Carroll, Regents Professor of History, Lamar University

"Thi's vivid, first-hand account describes the tragic events that led to the loss of Quang Tri, Hue, the fall of Da Nang, and the subsequent surrender of South Vietnam. . . . Thi is also brutally frank in his assessment of South Vietnam's fall, but he does not fall into the 'how we might have won' syndrome. He lays part of the blame on America's failure to provide promised support, but he also acknowledges South Vietnam's shortcomings, which contributed to the defeat."--James H. Willbanks, Military Review

"[H]is narrative is a stunning portrayal of the gradual collapse of South Vietnam . . . replete with tales of heroism, treachery, and political intrigue and corruption. . . . [T]his is a must-read book. Lam Quang Thi has provided a powerful and detailed map of a road to disaster, which should be particularly enlightening to Americans who got off the bus before it went off the cliff."--Proceedings

"Not the least of this book's virtues is to remind a largely uncomprehending Western readership of the protracted experience of war that was the lot of many Vietnamese whose allegiance lay with the anti-Communist side in a long revolutionary war. . . . While praising the relationship between Americans and Vietnamese in the field, especially the US 'counterparts', he has some sharp things to say about American ethnocentrism and arrogance towards senior Vietnamese officers and officials. . . . [I]t's straightforward, self-effacing style should appeal to a general readership."--H-War/H-Net Book Review

"General Thi strongly criticized the American strategy of 'graduated response' as well as the 'enclave' concept that failed to win the enemy guerrilla warfare. According to him, the American Army forgot that 'the most important factor in a war is man, not technology, and victory requires traditional leadership, not bureaucratic management.'"

University of North Texas Press, 9781574411430, 448pp.

Publication Date: February 13, 2002

About the Author

Lam Quang Thi was born in the South Vietnamese province of Bac Lieu. Correctly predicting that his country would be in a perennial state of war after the French left, he decided to pursue a career in the army. He was awarded the Vietnamese National Order, 3rd Degree, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with seventeen combat citations, the U.S. Legion of Merit, and the Korean Order of Chung Mu. He holds a French Baccalaureate Degree in Philosophy and an MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He currently lives in Milpitas, California.