Year published :2000

Pages :135 pp.

Size :15x23 cm.

Rights :Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam

ISBN: 9789747551402

The Dust of Life: America's Children Abandoned in Vietnam

by Robert S. McKelvey

The Dust of Life is a collection of vivid and devastating oral histories of Vietnamese Amerasians. Abandoned during the war by their American fathers, discriminated against by the victorious Communists, and ignored for many years by the American govern­ment, they endured life in impoverished Vietnam. Their stories are sad, sometimes tragic, but they are also testimonials to human resiliency.

Robert McKelvey is a former marine who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s. Now a child psychiatrist, he returned to Vietnam in 1990 to begin the long series of interviews that resulted in this book. While allowing his subjects to speak for themselves, McKelvey has organized their narratives around themes common to their lives: early maternal loss, the experience of prejudice and discrimination, coping with adversity, dealing with shattered hopes for the future, and, for some, adapting to the alien environment of the United States.

While unique in many respects, the Vietnamese Amerasian story also illustrates themes that are tragically universal: neglect of the human by-products of war, the destructiveness of prejudice and racism, the pain of abandonment, and the horrors of life amidst extreme poverty, hostility, and neglect.

About the Author

ROBERT S. McKELVEY, M.D., is professor and director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon.

What Others Are Saying

“The plight of Vietnamese Amerasians is particularly affecting for Americans, since the fathers of these children were American soldiers, civilian employees, and government personnel stationed in Vietnam. What makes this story particularly anguishing is that these children left behind, and their mothers, were often subjected to considerable abuse and discrimination. McKelvey is particularly well suited to deal with the psychological impacts on .children.”—James M. Freeman, San Jose State University, author of Hearts of Sorrow: Vietnamese-American Lives

“I was thoroughly absorbed by the writer's candor, his personal and engaging manner, his sensitivity and compassion. This is a book that teaches us all about a terrible overlooked human tragedy-and will become a research landmark in the social sciences.”—Robert Coles, Harvard University, author of The Moral Intelligence of Children