The Fall of Saigon

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When the war in Vietnam ended for the United States in 1973, it did not end for the South Vietnamese or for the thousands of Americans still in Saigon. In THE FALL OF SAIGON, David Butler relates the story of that final month in the capital city before the eventual takeover by Communist forces. The author, who was in Saigon as an NBC radio correspondent for a full year prior to the shelling of the city on April 29, 1975, tells the story in excerpts from the views of various participants, both American and Vietnamese. The book, whose fragmentary style is reminiscent of Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (1974), is nevertheless a well-documented, fast-moving chronicle of the end of the Republic of South Vietnam.

The book is divided into four major parts, each representing a specific time period. In each section, the story unfolds through the eyes and words of the military, government officials, and civilians. Butler has recorded interviews with participants and melded them into an exciting documentary. After the American military withdrawal from South Vietnam, President Nguyen Van Thieu evacuated his troops from the central and northern provinces in March, 1975. This began the final chapter of the fall of Saigon. The chaotic departure of the Americans then still left in Saigon is a dark episode in American history, but darker still in the unsettling annals of Vietnam. Butler provides an excellent first-hand account of this tragic and ignominious denouement.