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When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace (1989)

de Le Ly Hayslip

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Séries: Heaven and Earth (1)

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It is said that in war heaven and earth change places not once, but many times. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places is the haunting memoir of a girl on the verge of womanhood in a world turned upside down. The youngest of six children in a close-knit Buddhist family, Le Ly Hayslip was twelve years old when U.S. helicopters langed in Ky La, her tiny village in central Vietnam. As the government and Viet Cong troops fought in and around Ky La, both sides recruited children as spies and saboteurs. Le Ly was one of those children. Before the age of sixteen, Le Ly had suffered near-starvation, imprisonment, torture, rape, and the deaths of beloved family members-but miraculously held fast to her faith in humanity. And almost twenty years after her escape to Ameica, she was drawn inexorably back to the devastated country and family she left behind. Scenes of this joyous reunion are interwoven with the brutal war years, offering a poignant picture of vietnam, then and now, and of a courageous woman who experienced the true horror of the Vietnam War-and survived to tell her unforgettable story.… (mais)
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3.5 This memoir started out strong, but then lost something. I didn’t really feel connected to Le Ly and the things she experienced, and I’m not sure exactly why. She has a beautiful and unique way of writing. She has a beautiful heart. Maybe it was the lack of her own emotions when she was raped three different times or left high and dry by an American lover.

Still, this is a unique perspective of the American-Vietnam War from a Vietnamese peasant girl just coming of age. I had never thought or could imagine what it may have been like for the citizen’s of Vietnam caught up in this war. This memoir will give you a lot to think about. The pressure was put on them from all sides. Viet Cong came to Le Ly’s village in 1963. But, the real enemies were the French, who ruled over them and basically treated them like slaves, and raped and killed, and the Viet Minh, who fought the French to win Vietnam independence, and followers of North Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh, a communist dictator indoctrinating its people full of lies against the Americans. Le Ly found out over time that the Americans were the least to be feared.

She did what she had to do to get out of Vietnam and come to America for a better life…and a better life she is definitely living. She runs a couple of nonprofit foundations she started up back in the 1980’s after she returned from visiting Vietnam and seen the conditions they were still living in: 1) East Meets West Foundation and 2) Global Village Foundation. Both of these foundations work at providing basics to the people of Vietnam and placing thousands of orphanages in homes, many of those left behind by American soldiers.

QUOTE: What we do, think, and feel lives after us through the lives we've touched. (p. 368) So true!!
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Book sequel: "Child of War, Woman of Peace" - continues the story of her life in America. (1993)
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Book-to-movie: “Heaven & Earth" (1993), directed by Oliver Stone, starring Hiep Thi Le and Tommy Lee Jones. ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
This was the most gruesome, rawest book that I've read in a while. There are no winners. War turns everyone into so small. The author's will to live is incredible. Reading this book while in Hanoi really helped me understand its past. ( )
  bsmashers | Aug 1, 2020 |
Read this while I was in Vietnam. Very interesting and horrific personal account of growing up during the American War, as they call it, by a woman who as a child both worked for and was tortured by the Viet Cong (and by the Republcans). She was amazingly enterprising during all of this. I admired her courage but was put off by her terrible taste in men!

She ended up in the States by virtue of her marriage to a much older man, returning to Vietnam to find her estranged mother and sister. ( )
  bobbieharv | Jun 3, 2018 |
Part of the problem reading history is that sometimes one tends to look at the overall picture; the strategic view, rather than the impact of an event on the individual Le Ly Hayslip has recounted her family's personal experiences during the Vietnam war from the perspective of those caught in the middle. Her story portrays the agony of the destruction of a centuries-old way of life and the ruination of a country. The village she lived in, Ky La, was just a tiny fanning village, one surely no one has heard of. Yet, the village's ordeal, first from the French, followed by the nocturnal terror of the Viet Cong, and finally the rain of American explosives totally obliterating its existence, was shared by much of the country. Pitted against the horror of modern warfare the family and village life disintegrated. First suspected of being a member of the Viet Cong, she was imprisoned and tortured by the South Vietnamese. Upon release the Viet Cong assumed she had become a collaborator and added her name to the death list. As she ran away from the village her allegiance to traditional values faded, she bore an illegitimate child, took American lovers, and under duress became a black marketeer. She worshiped at the "shrine of the street-smart and the shrewd, not at the altar of my ancestors." Despite it all, she despairs not for the future, but has tried to break through the cycle of vengeance and. now works for the East Meets West Foundation, an organization which hopes to reconcile the differences between the two countries.

( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
an excellent account of the vietnam war from the other side. this is the true story of a young girl who experienced the war in a very immediate way. it's very good. ( )
  julierh | Apr 7, 2013 |
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Le Ly Hayslipautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Wurts, Jayautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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It is said that in war heaven and earth change places not once, but many times. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places is the haunting memoir of a girl on the verge of womanhood in a world turned upside down. The youngest of six children in a close-knit Buddhist family, Le Ly Hayslip was twelve years old when U.S. helicopters langed in Ky La, her tiny village in central Vietnam. As the government and Viet Cong troops fought in and around Ky La, both sides recruited children as spies and saboteurs. Le Ly was one of those children. Before the age of sixteen, Le Ly had suffered near-starvation, imprisonment, torture, rape, and the deaths of beloved family members-but miraculously held fast to her faith in humanity. And almost twenty years after her escape to Ameica, she was drawn inexorably back to the devastated country and family she left behind. Scenes of this joyous reunion are interwoven with the brutal war years, offering a poignant picture of vietnam, then and now, and of a courageous woman who experienced the true horror of the Vietnam War-and survived to tell her unforgettable story.

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