The Vietnamese Boat People, 1954 and 1975–1992


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About the Book

The biggest diaspora in Vietnamese history occurred between 1975 and 1992, when more than two million people fled by boat to escape North Vietnam’s oppressive communist regime. Before this well-known exodus from Vietnam’s shores, however, there was a massive population shift within the country. In 1954, one million fled from north to south to escape war, famine, and the communist land reform campaign. Many of these refugees went on to flee Vietnam altogether in the 1970s and 1980s, and the experiences of 1954 influenced the later diaspora in other ways as well.
This book reassesses the causes and dynamics of the 1975–92 diaspora. It begins with a discussion of Vietnam from 1939 to 1954, then looks closely at the 1954 “Operation Exodus” and the subsequent resettlements. From here the focus turns to the later events that drove hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese to flee their homeland in 1975 and the years that followed. Planning for escape, choosing routes, facing pirates at sea, and surviving the refugee camps are among the many topics covered. Stories of individual escapees are provided throughout. The book closes with a look at the struggles and achievements of the resettled Vietnamese.

About the Author(s)

Nghia M. Vo, a Vietnamese-American, has written multiple books on Vietnamese culture. He helped found the nonprofit Saigon Arts, Culture & Education Institute and works to document Vietnamese-American culture through conferences, publications and a website.

Bibliographic Details

Nghia M. Vo
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2345-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8249-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

I. The 1954 Exodus

1. Vietnam 1939–1954      9

2. Operation Exodus 1954–1955      17

3. Resettlement      31

4. The Rumbles of War      42

II. The 1975–1992 Diaspora

5. Prelude to the 1975 Diaspora      55

6. The 1975 Wave      64

7. The Post–1975 Waves      83

8. The Planning      101

9. The Boat People      115

10. The Routes      130

11. The Pirates      142

12. The Camps      152

13. International Response      163

14. The Lands of Freedom      173

15. Struggles and Achievements      181

Epilogue      193

Chapter Notes      199

Bibliography      203

Index      207