Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
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Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  450 ratings  ·  96 reviews
At the age of twenty-four, Dang Thuy Tram volunteered to serve as a doctor in a National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) battlefield hospital in the Quang Ngai Province. Two years later she was killed by American forces not far from where she worked. Written between 1968 and 1970, her diary speaks poignantly of her devotion to family and friends, the horrors of war, her yearn...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 11th 2007 by Crown (first published 2005)
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This book broke my heart. It's not the first account I've read of a young woman in war, or in this war, but it's the first diary, and just the idea of keeping a diary in the middle of a war gets to me.

But first a note about how this book came to be, from the cover copy: The American officer who discovered the diary soon after Dr. Tram’s death was under standing orders to destroy all documents without military value. As he was about to toss it into the flames, his Vietnamese translator said to h...more
Kim M-M
the last entry in her diary seemed particularly poignant. her last words tot he world... and she didn't know it. I kept thinking about her mother, and how she felt reading the diary years after Dang's death. Dang would read their letters and write responses to people in her diary, things she didn't tell them in her letters. such love she had. If she didn't like anyone, she wouldn't name them, but spoke about their actions. and those she loved, she always carried in her thoughts. such a loving ca...more
The whole story of how this diary came to publication is very interesting and reading the diary is an experience I highly recommend.
Since it wasn't written with the intention of publication it can be choppy and repetitious at times as Thuy worked through her feelings towards war, love, family and her ethical code. Yet her constant self-examination and her evaluation of character traits in others cast light on the soul of someone who was very introspective and the philosophical closings of many...more
May 28, 2009 Angela rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, Vietnam War scholars, etc.
Shelves: memoir-of-a-sort
What I've noticed about most of the reviews of this book... is that they all mention the story of how the diary came to be published. They call that story interesting, intriguing, fascinating. And then there's the diary, where I see the words repetetive and never meant for publication mentioned a lot.

Basically, people don't want to give this a bad review because it is what it is. The story of a girl who died in the medical service of her country during the Vietnam War.

Maybe I don't have enough k...more
It’s possible the diary of Thuy Tran, a Vietnamese doctor serving in the National Liberation Front army, is a good read in Vietnamese. In English it is… terrible. I tried hard to remind myself of the real life behind the narrative voice, of the fear and sacrifice, of her youth… but despite the evocative form (reading a diary feels like - maybe because it is? - an invasion) the writing is so terrible it’s distracting. I appreciate, too, that Thuy wasn’t a writer by trade and so my expectations fo...more
Jul 31, 2008 +Chaz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who are not followers
Recommended to +Chaz by: National Public Radio
It seems that the more we understand our enemy, the more we see them functioning in their daily lives, the harder it is to kill them. Perhaps that is why we dehumanize them; how sad. Ms. Tram’s diary of living under a jungle canopy in the middle of a battle field is almost as eye opening for the Vietnam War, as “All Quite on The Western Front,” was for WWI and “The Diary of Ann Franks” during WWII. A young lady, a doctor gladly volunteering to serve her country to care for her wounded countrymen...more
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This 'little' book impacted me....and potentially a few other people in this no other. This is the diary of a young, idealistic doctor who worked, not near, but in the precise location where I was in Viet precisely the same time I was in Viet Nam....when she talks about the 'devil Americans'....that's ME! As I read the diary entries I realized, the day I arrived in Viet Nam was nearing....then I arrived....then I traveled to the small LZ north of Quang Ngai....then she wa...more
Sandra D
Overwrought and gushingly emotional diary of a young female surgeon. I had hoped for a more straightforward accounting of life within the Viet Cong support system -- what American forces were up against -- but this wasn't it. I couldn't finish it.
Larry Bassett
The excellent fifteen page introduction by Frances Fitzgerald of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace contains some incisive observations about the book, its meaning and its history and its origins. The book itself is a diary, an interior monologue by the main character Dang Thuy Tram, a mid twenty-something woman who is a new doctor in the midst of the war in Vietnam. Her job is to care for wounded Viet Cong soldiers just below the seventeenth parallel that divides the North and the South. She is surr...more
I only rated this 3 stars - probably because it was, after all, two full years worth of diary entries. After the first 150 entries, one is reminded that this is a diary ...

However, the larger story is very provocative and the context becomes 5 star material. A young woman doctor from the North travels to the South to be a part of the medical teams in the war zone supporting the Viet Cong - our term - fellow Vietnamese, her term. She loves her country, both north and south, and was willing (volun...more
Laura (booksnob)
Dang Thuy Tram was a doctor who lived and worked in Vietnam during the war. She left her family, became a member of the communist party and worked to heal members of the Vietcong army. During the Vietnam war Thuy kept a diary and wrote down her thoughts, her emotions and the daily tribulations of living and working during a war. She relates some of the history of Vietnam, the conflict with the French and her wish for peace and freedom. Only one diary out of three survives.

Dr. Tram is shot and ki...more
It's difficult to contain emotions-mine through hers. The diary hits me personally. I was born to the lullaby of this war. I grew up witnessing its savagery engulfing lives & humanity... Indeed, the diary has the fire within. Her words are raw & achingly vivid as she accounts amid the atrocities, annihilation & dehumanization of war the very core of human conditions, existence & veracity. Fate did deny her life. But chances & choices, death can't deny her. Her voice echoes et...more
Dec 19, 2008 Young added it
Shelves: never-finished
I had high hopes for this book because I don't see a whole lot of novels or memoirs written by Vietnamese authors about the Vietnam War and this was one of the few I found. It is a very slow read for me. I'm having a hard time with the poetic nature of the book. Additionally, I find little substance regarding the war and the history of the war. The monotonous overtone of this person's reflection about herself and the men that she nurtured is a bit boring. I'm half way through the book and I find...more
Stephen Mcgrath
After reading twenty or so pages of this diary I got the idea that it was written by a highly idealistic, overly-romantic young girl, and the rest of the book became too repetitive to offer further interest. It was only in the last few months of her life, as the US forces zoned in on her location that her writings changed enough to hold interest again. Overall, the diary is a worthy war artifact, and Thuy Tram's writing is accomplished, but I didn't find it satisfying in the way one expects of a...more
Emer Martin
"The American officer who discovered the diary soon after Dr. Tram’s death was under standing orders to destroy all documents without military value. As he was about to toss it into the flames, his Vietnamese translator said to him, “Don’t burn this one. . . . It has fire in it already.” Against regulations, the officer preserved the diary and kept it for thirty-five years. In the spring of 2005, a copy made its way to Dr. Tram’s elderly mother in Hanoi. The diary was soon published in Vietnam,...more
I have tried twice to read this book, and twice found myself not really wanting to pick it up again once I set it down.

I don't blame the author- who writes their journal entries assuming they'll be published for everyone to read? I have just found the style of writing, and the author herself to be a little overly dramatic and overdone for my taste. I was hoping for an insightful glimpse into a war that I don't feel I know enough about, from the perspective of a Vietnam citizen. While politics a...more
I so wanted to read this book, being fascinated with everything Vietnam War....but was exceptionally disappointed. This person, (a doctor for heaven's sake!) did nothing but whine and pine for an unrequited love like a 12 year old school girl....I hated all of it!
Elena Grassi
C'è poco da dire su questo diario scritto da una volontaria che tra il 1968 e il 1970 prestò servizio medico tra le file del National Liberation Front in Vietnam: ti spezza il cuore. Scritto durante la guerra e mai terminato perchè Thuy venne uccisa dai soldati americani a 26 anni, questo diario è un terribile resoconto di emozioni, desideri, speranze che la povera Thuy non vedrà mai realizzarsi. Una giovane vita distrutta, una tra migliaia: dolore, morte, sofferenza e impotenza. Fa riflettere e...more
Dang Truy Tram's diary during the Vietnam War documents her day to day experiences and emotions in 1968-70. She was a surgeon who worked under extreme conditions to treat the war injuries of her comrades. She was killed in 1970 and this diary was returned to her family in Vietnam 35 years later, where it was published and hailed as a best-seller. It certainly is an impoertant pice of history.

I could not really get inot the format of a diary as i could have with a novel, and I felt some of the em...more
I feel like I should be giving this book a higher rating based on its subject and overall insights, but I got turned off by what is probably a typical Vietnamese writing style. This is the actual journal of a North Vietnamese woman physician who worked in field hospitals during the Vietnam War. A few weeks ago I watched the documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," the story of an American POW in Vietnam, so being able to hear about the war from the other side was particularly fascinating and a...more
Mar 30, 2008 Rachel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Asia buffs
Recommended to Rachel by: Susan Farkas
Shelves: asia
The found diary of a young Vietnamese woman this book seems to lie on the cusp between memoir and autobiography (if there is such a place). Written during the Vietnam war and later rescued from a pile of documents to be burned, it tells of haunting moments throughout the conflict with the US, the pain of loss, and the tender memories of family and love. The prose alternates between the romanticism that only a young revolutionary could convey and more straightforward explanations of the enemy enc...more
Jen Ashburn
I'm a bit conflicted about reviewing this book. This is a diary of a North Vietnam doctor who was killed in the U.S./Vietnam war. It was a personal document never intended for publication, so I feel commentary about the author's writing style is a little uncalled for. But, it was a little hard to follow, especially with all the references to second younger brother, third younger brother, etc., which, according to the footnotes, are ways of addressing very close friends, if that special relations...more
Au Yong Chee Tuck
An evocative diary. At the basic level, it can be read as the anxieties of a young girl who had fallen in love during war time.

In the sensitive translation by Andrew X Pham, the message of Hope for humanity has been convincingly conveyed. Mr Pham was himself a soldier who served with the ARVN and was captured by his adversaries. Therefore, he knew what it was like living in his war torn country.

For those readers who disparage this work, it should be borne in mind that the diarist had no intent...more
Sophie Zapoli
This was a riveting diary that touches upon the humanity in war, a person who dared to dream of peace at a time when most could only think of bullets and bombs. While it does become very confusing as Thuy switches narratives, her words are nothingness poetic and truthful at the same time as she attempts to understand herself and her place in the war as well as the violence of war itself. Through nights without electricity, battle trenches, listening long into the night to the sound of bombs and...more
Sep 29, 2009 nanto marked it as wishlist-‎a-k-a-buku-buruan
Membaca diary seseorang sepertinya serasa membuka kotak pandora. Ruang privat yang teramat dalam, namun kini terbuka. Ketika itu terjadi dari sosok pribadi yang hidup di negara dengan filosofi politik yang didomonasi oleh kuatnya nilai komunal, tak pelak perlu kecurigaan. Apakah ini semacam propaganda? Sejauh mana pribadi itu bersuara? Apakah diari itu semacam escaping room bagi penulisnya dikarenakan tulisannya dipenuhi hal-hal yang tabu atau mengundang antipati publik?

Lagipun ada juga terbitan...more
This was a VERY powerful read. It is one of three diaries documented by a young female North Vietnam physician during the Vietnam War (the other 2 diaries were lost). Reminded me very much of Anne Frank, the difference being a diary of a teenager compared to that of a young woman. Having grown up with the Vietnam War in my background as Dads were stationed there I learned more about the countries of North and South Vietnam, their history, and how the US became engaged in the conflict in more hum...more
Rebecca Henderson
Dang Thuy Tram’s diaries were a difficult read for me, only partly because of the pain and hardship of war that she describes. Many of the insights and emotions she expresses are universal to any military doctor in any war faced with death on a daily basis for weeks, months, years on end, and my heart broke for Thuy as she pours out her love for her injured and dying brothers, as she longs for the home and family she left behind, and as she deals with separation from the man who held her heart....more
Dec 29, 2007 Betsy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: students of Vietnam War
The story of how this diary came to light is interesting - an American soldier who was supposed to destroy all non-military related materials didn't end up burning it because his Vietnamese translator said there is already fire in this book, don't destroy it! Thuy was a remarkable young woman - a doctor who was passionate and intelligent and who shares her personal sorrows and triumphs with us thereby offering a perspective on the Vietnam War that we, as Americans, don't often, if ever see. In s...more
A woman of some privilege, at the age of 24 Dang Thuy Tram volunteered to serve as a doctor for the Viet Cong. Embracing the propaganda of her country completely, she headed off to South Vietnam and a war from which she will never return. Parts of this book were difficult to read as they reflect her astonishing naiveté about life, love, people, the government and the deaths of those around her who are killed in the war. Understandably, she has a deep hatred of the Americans and rejoices when the...more
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