An Interview With Author Khanh Ha On His Heritage In War-Torn Vietnam

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Modern Vietnam

Modern Vietnam

The era that surrounds the Vietnam War changed America dramatically. The deception that was exposed to the American people made us distrustful of our own government, including President Nixon and leading Generals. We learned that the reality of the war was far from what the Nixon Administration was saying, and events like the Kent State Shootings and the humiliation of the Tet Offensive put a rift between leaders & the American people.

40 years ago this week the capital of South Vietnam, Saigon, fell to the North Vietnamese. The American troops had withdrawn after the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, leaving the South Vietnamese to defend themselves. South Vietnam, after nearly a decade of conflict, had fallen to the Communists in a matter of weeks.

My friend Khanh Ha, author of 2 beautiful novels I have reviewed, found his heritage in Vietnam during the war. He gives us a rare insight into the war from the Vietnamese perspective, and he discusses the scars the war left upon his birthplace. His compassion for his people is evident and abundant, and he reminds us that atrocities like what the Communists did to Vietnam still happen today. He is a voice for empathy, and I am truly honored to now give you my interview with Khanh Ha.

Nassem: Hello Khanh, and welcome back to Seize The Moment. How are you?

Khanh: I’m fine, and thank you, Nassem, for having me back on your blog.

Nassem: Today I would love to discuss your heritage in a nation that greatly changed ours, but many of us do not know much about. Could you give us a broad introduction into the expansive history of Vietnam?

Khanh: The birth of our nation began 4000 years ago under the name Văn Lang, which was geographically North Vietnam today. The nation then became Âu Việt as a result of the annexation following a war among tribes. The nation was then subjugated by the Chinese for several centuries until it regained its freedom and autonomy under a new name: Vạn Xuân. It fell to Chinese dominion again for three centuries before it finally gained its permanent independence under the name Đại Cồ Việt. During this new era, the nation defeated the Mongols three times, first in 1258, then in 1285, and finally in 1287. It fought off the Ming invasion two centuries later and the nation’s name was changed to Đại Việt. Civil wars raged for over two hundred years until the nation was unified under emperor Quang Trung’s reign. His chief enemy, Lord Nguyễn Ánh, sought military aid from the French, which eventually led to his victory and established the Nguyễn dynasty that lasted from 1802 to 1945. However, the French began encroaching on the nation’s autonomy in 1858 and conquered it in 1884. The Vietnamese resistance, still infantile at the turn of the 20th century, gradually became a force to be reckoned with in the 1930s under the name Viet Minh, led by Hồ Chí Minh. The Viet Minh defeated the French at Đien Bien Phu in 1954, forcing the negotiation in Geneva which led to the division of Vietnam at the 17th Parallel: north of the parallel was North Vietnam and south of the parallel South Vietnam. Backed by the communist Chinese and Russians, the North Vietnamese communists began infiltrating South Vietnam in 1958. The American-backed South Vietnam fought North Vietnam for over a decade in what was known as the Vietnam War. In 1975, North Vietnamese communists won and the nation is called Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Nassem: With this background established, I would like to discuss more recent Vietnamese history. The French were in control in Vietnam from 1945 to 1954, and I have heard that cities in Vietnam look somewhat like “smaller versions of Paris.” In Hue, where you grew up, is this statement true? 

Khanh: No. French influence was most evident in Tonkin (North Vietnam) and Cochinchina (South Vietnam). Annam (Hue), Laos and Cambodia did not fall directly under French influence. Cochinchina, or La colonie de Cochinchine, was southern Vietnam whose capital was Saigon. Here the vestige of French culture still stands over the years: the colonial architectural buildings and residential quarters, the tree-lined streets and avenues of old Saigon built by the French over a century ago.

Tu Duc Mausoleum

Tu Duc Mausoleum

Nassem: Staying on the topic of Hue before the Vietnam War, what was city life like before the war? I understand that many other conflicts had caused much destruction, but could Hue have been considered metropolitan prior to the Vietnam War? 

Khanh: Hue was the ancient capital of Vietnam before the Geneva Accords which divided Vietnam into North and South Vietnam in 1954.

I admire the U.S.’s democracy. But unlike many immigrants who try to forget their past, I carry with me the image of my country. That image is Huế, where my placenta was buried. There is a Vietnamese proverb: Quê mẹ là nơi chôn nhau cắt rốn. The Motherland is where we bury our placenta and sever our umbilical cord. It begins with the cultural intellect of a city known for its moss-stained citadel, the imperial tombs nestled in the pine forest, temples and pagodas tucked away at the foot of gentle hills by a quiet stream. Its damp, foggy climate had left moisture damage on the ancient buildings, on old houses with moss-covered yin-yang roof tiles. Through Huế flows the Perfume River, clear and clean, and in the summer flame trees bloom scarlet along its banks. All the streets were narrow, shaded with ancient trees, sometimes white with frangipani blossoms, sometimes pink with cassia. As a youngster, I lived in the Huế’s mysterious atmosphere, half real, half magic. I used to walk home under the shade of the Indian almond trees, the poon trees. The nuts of the Indian almond trees tasted rich and fat like almonds, the nuts of the poon trees were polished and used in the marble games. At the base of these ancient trees I would pass a shrine. If I went with my grandmother, she would push my head down. “Don’t stare at it,” she said. “That’s disrespect to the genies.”

It is the old capital of the Nguyễn dynasty. It is my birthplace.

Nassem: Moving into the beginning stages of the war now, the struggle between the Communists and the Diem government was reaching fever pitch. Where did your family pledge its loyalty, and where did many others put theirs? In a similar vein, as a child, did you understand the full ramifications at stake in this face-off?

Khanh: My father was the chairman of a major political party in South Vietnam. He was anti-dictatorial and anti-communist. Because of his political stance, he was imprisoned by the Diem government. After the military coup d’etat in 1963, which saw Diem and his brother killed, my father was set free. He took office with the military junta as the minister of the interior, but he resigned shortly after because of irreconcilable issues with the Nguyễn Khánh junta government. As a child, I understood only one thing: have faith in your parents. My father was anti-Diem, and he was a resistance leader. His party, Đại Việt, was pledged to the restoration of national prestige and the unifications of the two nations. When he became a political prisoner, our family was exiled to Huế, where we lived with our grandmother until the coup d’etat in 1963, when we were reunited with our father again.

Nassem: President Ngo Dinh Diem was proven to be an autocratic and brutal leader, and the Communists were worse. How did many of the common people in Vietnam, those just looking to make a life for themselves, decide what side to support? Did many not support any side at all?

Khanh: Those who were caught between a rock and a hard place had to live through the dilemma. There were no better sides to side with. But the Vietnamese people are known for being markedly resilient, attested by their incredible endurance against adversity. Newspapers in South Vietnam were censored during the Diem regime, and again censored through the first Republic of Vietnam under Nguyễn Văn Thiệu regime. At the same time, people lived in fear against the communist terrorism much like ISIS violence against the innocents in today’s world.

Nassem: In the Vietnam War, Hue was found to be a vulnerable location as it rested on the border between the North and South. During the Tet Offensive in 1968, Hue was practically destroyed. Could you expand on what you remember of the destruction, as you were there as this all happened? Also, if it is not too horrific to talk about, would you talk us through what the Communist massacre of innocents in Hue did to the spirit of the citizens in the city?

Khanh: At Mỹ Lai the American soldiers murdered the Vietnamese civilians; but during Tết in Huế, the VC massacred the Vietnamese—their own people. Here you heard only of Mỹ Lai. The American public was more interested in a war crime committed by one American infantry platoon than in the Huế massacre.

My father wasn’t home with us. The VC executed people like him. My mother kept the joss sticks burning on the altar every day and thanked the Buddha for sparing my father’s life.
The VC came into Huế with the names of those they wanted to kill. Few were spared. They executed government officials, political party officials, block leaders, intellectuals, teachers, even priests and monks. But they killed a lot of people out of personal hate and vendetta.

Every night we heard gunshots. Much later we found out that those were fired by the communists during their execution, and the playground of our high school was used as a mass grave. After the VC withdrew from Huế, graves were identified, and folks came to dig for bodies. The odor from the rotten bodies hung for days over the neighborhood. Smelled like dead rats but with a fish stench. My mother burned incense in the house to kill that odor. Like many people who lived inside the Citadel, we had fled, seeking refuge somewhere else.

When we came back to our house inside the Citadel, one side of the house had caved in. It must have been hit by artillery shells or helicopter gunships. Ammunition shells were all over the yard. Do you know what I saw on one side of our chest of drawers? An inscription: Miami, FLA. Mom, Dad, and apple pie. The American troops had  boarded down in our house during the house-to-house combat against the VC.

They massacred at least a few thousand people. It took people months to search, to dig the mass graves. Mass graves in the schoolyards, in the parks of the inner city. Mass graves in the jungle creek beds, in the coastal salt flats. People shot to death, clubbed to death with pick handles, buried alive with elbows tied behind them. The communists said they executed only the reactionaries, those who worked for the South Vietnam government. But I saw many bodies of women and children. Shot in the head, bashed in the head. Did they deserve to die?

Evacuation from Hue

Evacuation from Hue

Nassem: As the war continued, necessities for many Vietnamese were not available. What kind of food, water, and other needed resources were restricted or non-existent in Hue during the war? 

Khanh: It wasn’t so. There were no food ration or food scarcity. The only common restriction of freedom of movement is the night curfew, which was enforced in major cities of South Vietnam.

Nassem: In the late 1960s into the early 1970s, the United States erupted in anti-war sentiment and activism against the Vietnam War, which led in the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. What actions occurred in Hue after these Accords were signed? Did communication systems exist still in Hue at this point to inform citizens of the end of American involvement? 

Khanh: Everything was normal until the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. However, the false lull after the peace accords could be felt by those who were politically savvy about the communist cunning. They knew it was only a matter of time before war would erupt again.

Nassem: By 1975 the North Vietnamese had reached Saigon and reunited the nation under Communism. I understand that you left Vietnam at this time, after spending the duration of the war in Vietnam. What were the circumstances around your evacuation and how did it happen?

Khanh: I watched the debacle of South Vietnam on TV in my dormitory room in the United States. My father had predicted such a collapse. I wished he was wrong, but when I saw that exodus in March of seventy-five, I felt sick in my stomach. My Huế people were leaving their beloved city for Ðà Nẵng. It seemed like an atomic bomb had been dropped on Huế. It looked that way to me. I cried as I watched thousands of refugees climbing the Hải Vân mountain pass. Cars, scooters, bicycles, even the xích lô. My parents decided to stay. People panicked after the Airborne pulled out of Huế. Then the real shock came when they saw American advisors start burning papers. The day the Americans closed up their offices in late March, people packed up and fled the city. It was a shame to see the first to flee Huế and Quảng Trị were government and military officers. They boarded commercial air flights, they chartered vehicles to carry their belongings. My father’s love for Huế could have cost him his life; he wanted to be with his family. I respect his decision. Every morning my father stood at the window and watched the flow of refugees. He told my younger sisters to study, though there were no schools. Then for days the city came under mortar attack. The family hid under the beds. My father never left the window. He kept watch. Then he saw more and more soldiers deserting in the exodus. ‘For twenty years we had fought the communists only to give up in a matter of days,’ he said to my mother, and then closed the window.

Nassem: As exciting and informative it has been to talk to you about your heritage in Vietnam, I would like to now give you a platform to talk about your new book The Demon Who Peddled Longing, which I have reviewed on this site. Please talk about the general description of the book and also where interested readers can learn more about the book.

Khanh: Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing tells the terrible journey of a nineteen-year-old boy in search of the two brothers who are drifters and who raped and killed the boy’s cousin. It begins with the boy badly hurt in a boat wreck. He finds himself on the Plain of Reeds in the Mekong Delta, being saved by a fisherwoman who drinks nothing but rice liquor and nurses him with her own milk and at night would take his sex and caress it like a holy object. When he decides to leave, the woman comes close to taking his life. He runs away. He travels south on the trail taken by the drifters who has raped and murdered his cousin, until he reaches a seaside town. One night he sees a girl coming down the road on a beautiful white horse. He has hardly breath while he stands in front of her. He knows he would never be the same again without knowing her. By chance the boy finds out who the girl is. The twenty-two-year-old girl, the untouched cherry, is married to an overlord triple her age and sexually impotent. Then there is the overlord, the most unforgiving master of his own vast holdings yet a victim of his illnesses, who wants the boy’s life for having laid his eyes on the master’s young wife. From this backdrop comes a story of the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate.

If you are interested in reading more about the book, please go to my author website, From there you can visit my blog, Goodreads and Facebook pages. To order a copy of the book, go to Amazon or Barnes&Noble.

Nassem: Thank you so much Khanh for being so willing to discuss your upbringing in Vietnam and for sharing all of your knowledge. I look forward to having you back here! 

Khanh: Thank you, Nassem, for the interview, and it’s my pleasure to appear on your blog again.

Author Bio:

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Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (2012, Black Heron Press) and The Demon Who Peddled Longing (2014,  Underground Voices). He is a five-time Pushcart nominee, a Best Indie Lit New England nominee, and the recipient of Greensboro Review’s 2014 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. His work, The Demon Who Peddled Longing, was honored by Shelf Unbound as a Notable Indie Book.

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Unthinkable By Kenneth Pollack Is A Fair, Fresh Take At American Options Regarding Iran

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The Iranian Nuclear Crisis has always interested me. I have written an article about it before on here, and will write more in the future. Unthinkable by Kenneth Pollack discusses that topic, and talks about our strategy toward facing it.

Unthinkable begins with a short history of modern Iran. It describes Iran, why it wants a nuclear bomb, and the reason why it is so fanatical about it. Pollack talks about the Shah, the West’s involvement with his government, and then how our relations splintered when the Iranian Revolution occurred and American hostages were taken.

The book then delves into our possible solutions to prevent Iran from getting “the bomb”. It discusses the pros and cons of diplomacy, regime change, Israeli air strikes, and proliferation. It accurately gives each solution in a good and bad light, and gives all the possible ramifications of each.

Finally, it ends with the 2 options if we do nothing now: Containment or War. It talks about how, if it gets to the point when Iran gets a nuclear bomb(s), we only have these 2 choices, and how we have to pick the lesser of the evils. Pollack says that containment keeps us out of conflict, but costs a great deal of money, and may upset other Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He also says that, while war would end an oppressive regime quickly without nuclear conflict, it is proven, by our war in Iraq, that it would cost American lives and money and may not accomplish its goal. He argues that we need to end the Iranian Nuclear Program through diplomacy NOW, before we have to pick one of these options.

One of the best nonfictions I have read in a long time, Unthinkable by Kenneth Pollack opened my eyes to many new things regarding the Iranian Nuclear Program. Written from an unbiased place, it analyses all options fairly and allows the reader to pick which option would weigh best on their consciences and pocketbook.

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Kenneth Pollack- Author

Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other nations of the Persian Gulf region. He is currently a senior fellow in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. He served as the director of the Saban Center from 2009 to 2012, and its director of research from 2002 to 2009.

For More Info On Dr. Kenneth Pollack

Why 12 Years A Slave Should Be Required Reading And Viewing For All Americans

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Last year, 2013, produced a very important movie: 12 Years A Slave. I have to admit, even as someone who loves to read history, especially from this time period (1600-Present), I had never heard anything about Solomon Northup or of his memoir, and many others hadn’t either. When I began to do research into 12 Years A Slave when the movie came out in the theater, I found a story of a man born free but tricked into working as a slave in Louisiana for 12 years and I decided to read the book, and Penguin kindly provided me with a review copy, along with another book that I will be reviewing in a few days when it comes out.

Solomon Northup was born in New York in 1808, a free man. He was a musician, a reputable fiddling who played at local dances often. In 1841, he is offered a job to play as a fiddler in New York City in circus performances for a short time. After this, he is persuaded to go to Washington DC to play, and is drugged and sold to a slave trader. As Solomon proclaimed his freedom, however, he was beat savagely by his captors and sent on a ship to New Orleans. Northup, renamed Platt, was sold to William Ford, who Northup described in the memoir as there never being a more “kind, noble, candid, Christian man than William Ford.” Later, Solomon was sold to a man named John Tibeats, who was a cruel, savage man, once whipping Northup because he didn’t like the nails he was using but wanted no other kind, and when Solomon fought back and proclaimed that he was a free man, he was within seconds of being lynched but was saved by Ford’s overseerer. Another time, later, Tibeats tried to kill Solomon with an axe, but Northup dodged and strangled Tibeats with his hands to the point of unconsciousness. Solomon, after 5 weeks of being owned by Tibeats, was sold to Edwin Epps. Another cruel master, Epps whipped the slaves that did not meet their daily quota and sexually abused one of the slaves named Patsey. In 1852, Northup met an abolitionist named Samuel Bass who mailed letters for Solomon and the letters eventually reached his father’s former master’s son, who went down to Louisiana and proved that Northup was a free man. This was accepted, and Solomon Northup was free again after 12 years of slavery. He later pursued charges against his captors, but was unsuccessful, and is believed to have died in 1863.

The director of the 2013 movie 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen, said that he “could not believe that I had never heard of this book. It felt as important as Anne Frank’s diary.” I couldn’t agree more. A firsthand account, Northup had the unique viewpoint of being both a free man and a slave, and someone who was educated enough to write such an articulate recollection, challenged only by Frederick Douglass.

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I hope all will go see 12 Years A Slave in the theaters now, or when it come out on DVD, and read the actual memoir from Penguin Classics.

(Credit for movie poster goes here.)

Put Your Name On A NASA Probe That Will Bring A Sample Of An Asteroid To Earth

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NASA wants you to put your name on one of their space probes. No, I’m serious.

NASA and The Planetary Society are partnering together to conduct the “Messages To Bennu” program. Announced on January 15th, 2014, the public can submit their names by September 30th to appear twice on the OSIRIS-REx probe, planned for launch in 2016.

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The probe will travel to the asteroid 101955 Bennu, and will collect a sample of the asteroid and a part of it will bring this sample back to Earth. The main craft, which, after the sample collection will enter solar orbit, will have one of the microchips with the names on it. The other microchip will be on the collection craft, and will be back to Earth around 2023. So, your names will go to space, and if other NASA “Name To Space” programs have anything to say about it, the chip on the return probe may end up in a museum!

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In a statement, Dante Lauretta, an official working on the OSIRIS-REx program at the University of Arizona, said, “We are thrilled to share the OSIRIS-REx adventure with people across the Earth, to Bennu and back.”

Other major supporters of this, including someone who made me have a side interest in science, Bill Nye, said, “You will be part of humankind’s exploration of the solar system — how cool is that?”

To send your name to space and back, go to The Planetary Society’s Messages To Bennu Page. I sent my name in and it will be on the space probe, and I hope you will too!

(Credit Goes Here and Here for information)

My Thoughts On What Should Be In The 2014 State Of The Union Address

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On Tuesday, January 28th, President Obama will be giving the 2014 State of The Union Address. With an ambitious 6th year in office ahead, President Obama will be eager to get as much done as he can. Currently the President has an average of a 29% higher approval rating over Congressional Republicans, and he needs to use that, grow it, and pursue these 5, but not limited to, initiatives this year and lay them out on the 28th.

1. Give Power To Justice Department To Prosecute States Who Have The Voter-ID Laws
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. This lead to currently 35 states pursuing Voter-ID laws, a requirement that requires you to present your ID at the time of voting. I know it sounds simple, but it is far from so. The biggest state to implement this law so far is Texas, and, according to the Justice Department, they have between 600,000 and 795,000 citizens that do not have IDs and do not have the money or time to acquire them. If Voter-ID is implemented in the 35 states currently pursuing it, over 23 Million Citizens may not have the ability to vote. We already have issues getting people out and able to vote. Do we really need to make it harder? These laws disproportionally affect the poor and minorities, and I call on the President to make Voting Rights a major part of 2014 and that he helps Attorney General Holder and other officials in the Justice Department to pressure and prosecute states that have Voter-ID on their books.

2. Universal Pre-School And Teacher Training
The President has been pushing for both of these programs for a long time, and I would like him to use the bully pulpit to pressure Congress to pass them. I would like to see a Pre-K program where we use the power of the Internet to connect classrooms, and help teach culture from an early age. Can you imagine the cultural benefits of using online translators to have little children from Detroit talk to little children in Seoul? Imagine all the possibilities! I also would like to see the Fed. partner with colleges to train 2 million teachers in 10 years. This training should prepare aspiring teachers to be able to teach their future classes to be able to compete with the world to keep the US as the makers and innovators.

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3. Put Pressure On The House To Pass Immigration Reform
The Senate passed the bipartisan immigration reform bill last year overwhelmingly. I hope the President uses the moral argument to put pressure on the House to pass this by the end of the year. We need to make a leap forward on immigration, as it will strengthen our national security, make us a moral nation, and will significantly grow our GDP.

4. Energy Initiatives
Last year, the President and the EPA put historic caps on pollution. I would like to see a reduction in our oil and coal reliance in half in 10 years, even if that means using natural gas as a transition. I would like to see natural gas, solar, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric power be invested in and take over as our primary source and then our sources of energy. Hopefully, in 25 years, we will be off coal, oil, and other fossil fuels for good. I would also like to see the President’s other proposals put into action, like preparing us for stronger storms and weather, and to train more workers for Green Jobs.

5. Pressure Congress To Pass Senator Gillibrand’s Military Sexual Assault Bill
For the last few years, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been advocating for her bill to change the way sexual assault victims in the military prosecute their perpetrators. Earlier this week, the President gave a speech where he told sexual assault victims that he has their back. I would like him to call on Congress to pass Gillibrand’s bill, as it would be a huge step forward.

I look forward to this year’s State Of The Union Address and I hope you tune in!

(Credit for the photos to the White House)

A Splendid Book With A Unique Viewpoint During the American Revolution

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“The Loyalist’s Wife” is set during the War for Independence, but with a unique viewpoint, the Loyalists. Most writers that write about this era shy away from this viewpoint, but not Elaine Cougler.

“The Loyalist’s Wife” follows the pioneers John and Lucy Garner, who have settled in Upstate New York. John is called to duty as a British soldier, and has to leave Lucy to run the homestead herself. But with the heavy physical and emotional labor, a baby on the way, and strange visitors, can she really handle it all? And John, who is fighting as a Butler’s Ranger, will have to survive numerous times when accidentally left behind. As both lose hope that each other are alive, we see their paths cross and then move away from each other, always seeming to be so close, but too far. Can the Garners be reunited, or will this war, as it has so many others, tear them apart?

This book was excellent. I enjoyed the unique viewpoint put forward by this book. This story documents well the hardships of war and homestead in the Colonies, and the heartbreak, grief, and guilt. It captures an era as if the author lived the events. “The Loyalist’s Wife” also includes a character who is a major part of my family’s heritage, Joseph Brant, who will be a major character in the conclusion of my own trilogy (See My Spectemur Agendo Trilogy.) Overall, this book is a whole new look at arguably the most important time in human history, shows how the revolution of one nation helped set the groundwork for another, and accurately displays the human cost of war.

(This book is Book 1 in “The Loyalist Trilogy”. Book 2 comes out this year, 2014.)

(Elaine Cougler- Author of “The Loyalist’s Wife”)

A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised 2 children until she finally had time to pursue her writing career. She loves to research both family history and history in general for the stories of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. These days writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. Telling the stories of Loyalists caught in the American Revolutionary War is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in that struggle, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

(Credit for photo goes to http://www.elainecougler.com and author bio goes to back of “The Loyalist’s Wife”)

A Movie of Racially-Profiled Violence That Is A Magnificently-Presented Biopic

This review is for “Fruitvale Station”, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer. This movie came out on DVD in the United States on January 14, 2014.

“Fruitvale” tells the true story of Oscar Grant III (played by Michael B. Jordan), who is fatally shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Officers in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. This biopic shows a day of Oscar Grant’s life, New Year’s Eve 2008, where he pledges to be a better man, to love his daughter better, and other resolutions. Grant is trying to escape his past, to fix it, before it hurts anyone else.

We see Oscar in all aspects in this film, from compassion to a hardened shell, only as a film focusing on 24 hours could. We see him trying to love his daughter even though trying to keep her naive from what is going on around her.

New Year’s Eve is Oscar’s mother’s (played by Octavia Spencer/The Help) birthday. Shown well is Oscar and his mother’s bond, one broken and forged over and over again. Oscar is shown then going to New Year’s celebrations with his friends and girlfriend, and something from his past comes back to hurt him. He is caught up in a fight, and for simply trying to prove his innocence, has racial epithets thrown at him. One thing leads to another and Oscar Grant is shot dead in the Fruitvale Train Station, just like in real events.

This movie made me cry more than any other movie in a long time. As someone who fights for civil rights and racial equality, this movie really affected me and will affect anyone. It sensitizes you, in direct opposition to the normal desensitization, due to the emotional bond that you develop with Oscar. I truly believe that this movie should be seen by as many people as possible, to show that racial profiling did not end in the 1960’s. An event similar to Trayvon Martin’s and, almost 60 years ago, Emmett Till’s, deaths due to race, shown in a movie that puts a life with a name on a death certificate. I truly believe that this movie will change millions of hearts and will inspire many to take up the torch in our generation to end racial profiling and social inequality in America.

Major Critical Praise For “Fruitvale Station”:

-Winner of the AFI Top 10 Movies of the Year Award

-Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Best First Film Award

-Appeared on numerous critics Top Movies of The Year Lists, such as critics with the LA Times, Washington Post, and others.

-Nominated for NAACP Best Picture, etc…

For more information on all things “Fruitvale Station”, please visit http://www.fruitvalefilm.com

(Credit to http://www.fruitvalefilm.com for photo)