Books in Brief | The Sacred Willow | HistoryNet MENU

Books in Brief | The Sacred Willow

10/11/2017 • HistoryNet, Vietnam Magazine

The Sacred Willow, Mai Elliott, Oxford University Press, 1999, 2017

“Looking back over this narrative,” Mai Elliott writes, “one of the themes I see in it is the irony and unpredictability of history.” In this new print edition, Elliot traces four generations of her Vietnamese family against backdrop of the nation’s ever-changing political environment. Elliott, born in Vietnam, spent her childhood in Hanoi and Saigon and lived through the fractures of war that divided her country and her own family. In the years following World War II these divisions grew, with some family members choosing to align themselves with the French, and eventually the Americans, while her eldest sister joined the Viet Minh. The Sacred Willow, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, offers a portrait of 20th century Vietnam to present day, and ultimately displays that “the tenacity of family bonds…though strained, were ultimately stronger than any political differences.” 

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