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The Ignorance of Bliss: An American Kid in Saigon

The Ignorance of Bliss: An American Kid in Saigon

by Sandy Hanna
The Ignorance of Bliss: An American Kid in Saigon

The Ignorance of Bliss: An American Kid in Saigon

by Sandy Hanna


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“Very early in my life I became a self-appointed spy.”

The Ignorance of Bliss tells the true story of ten-year-old Sandy, who moves with her American military family to Saigon, Vietnam where her father, the Colonel, serves as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese Army.

In 1960s Saigon, Sandy finds a world of crushing poverty and extraordinary beauty; a world of streets, villas, and brothels, where politics and intrigue reside between plot and counterplot. Blissfully living a life of French decadence, Sandy maneuvers between coups, spies, bombings, corruption, and scandal as she and her thirteen-year-old brother, Tom, run an illicit baby powder and Hershey bar business on the black market and live a life of school, scouts, dance parties, and movies at the underground theater.

When the Colonel’s counterpart, Colonel Le Van Sam, delivers an expose on the current ruling Diem regime, Sandy finds that her constant spying on her father’s activities has brought her face to face with the reality of Vietnam and the anti-American sentiment that pervades it. This coming-of age story takes place in a turbulent country striving for nationalism, giving the reader a stunning look into the life of military dependents living abroad and the underlying ignorance that surrounded a little understood time in history.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682617946
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

A resident of New York City and Lambertville, New Jersey, Sandy Hanna grew up in Saigon, South Vietnam and has been telling her story about that experience all of her life. She is an artist and a writer. Graduating from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a MEd, with a comprehensive in the Biology of Cognition, her undergraduate degree is from Knox College in Interdisciplinary programs in Science and Literature. She also spent a year studying design at the California Institute of the Arts with post graduate studies at Wharton. She was a designer of children’s play spaces, Williamstown Children’s Museum, Sesame Place a joint venture between CTW and Busch Entertainment and facilities for handicapped children, as well as a marketing director and consultant for a variety of diverse industries; children’s museums, theme parks, modular construction, etc. Her passion, however, is one as a storyteller.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Part I

Chapter 1 Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down 11

Chapter 2 As the World Turns 26

Chapter 3 Destination Saigon 36

Chapter 4 The Essence of Lemons 47

Chapter 5 The American Community School 54

Chapter 6 Je Suis American! 59

Chapter 7 Le Cercle Sportif 66

Chapter 8 Crickets in Sheltered Places 73

Chapter 9 Rue Tu Do 80

Chapter 10 Mine Fields, Scouting, and Baseball 86

Chapter 11 An Affair in Dà Lat 96

Chapter 12 Little Brother Ngô Dinh Nhu 109

Chapter 13 The 704th Depot 116

Chapter 14 The Election (November 8, 1960) 124

Part II

Chapter 15 The Underground Theater 135

Chapter 16 Baby Powder and Hershey Bars 147

Chapter 17 No Good Girl 154

Chapter 18 Lady Byrd and the Texan (May 1961) 167

Chapter 19 Rest and Relaxation 175

Chapter 20 Black Market Daze 180

Chapter 21 South of the Clouds 194

Chapter 22 Diêm's Birthday Parade 203

Chapter 23 The Redhead 210

Chapter 24 Long Life for One Hundred Years-Tet (February 9, 1961) 222

Chapter 25 Stay-at-Home Orders 229

Part III

Chapter 26 Brinks Bomb 237

Chapter 27 Vichy Girls 245

Chapter 28 City of Rumors and Spies 255

Chapter 29 Palace Bombing (1962) 264

Chapter 30 The Mars Box 270

Chapter 31 Money Laundering 279

Chapter 32 Five Ways Out 296

Chapter 33 Keep Calm and Carry On 309

Chapter 34 Until We Meet Again 316

Chapter 35 In the Time of Madness 330

Chapter 36 Miniskirts and Horses 341

Chapter 37 The Colonel's Collection 352

Epilogue: The End of an Era 371

Notes 379

About the Author 381

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