front cover of On The Ho Chi Minh Trail
On The Ho Chi Minh Trail
The Blood Road, The Women Who Defended It, The Legacy
Sherry Buchanan
Asia Ink, 2020
A mix of travelogue, history, and mediation on a journey through the Ho Chi Minh Trail that reveals the critical role women played in defending it.

Offering both a personal and historical exploration of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, this book highlights the critical role the Trail and the young women soldiers who helped build and defend it played in the Vietnam War. Accompanied by two traveling companions, Sherry Buchanan winds her way from Hanoi in the north to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, in the south. Driving through the spectacular scenery of Vietnam and Laos, she encounters locations from the Truong Son mountains, the Phong Nha Caves, ancient citadels, and Confucian temples to the Khmer Temple of Wat Phu at the western-most point of the Trail in Laos.
Buchanan records her interactions—both scheduled and spontaneous—with those who experienced the Vietnam War firsthand. She listens to the women who defended the Trail roads against the greatest bombing campaign in modern times, walks through minefields with the demolition teams hunting for unexploded ordnance, and meets American veterans who have returned to Vietnam with an urge to “do something.” Buchanan weaves informative, and often humorous, tales from her journey with excerpts from the accounts of others, situating the locations she visits in their historical and political context. On the Ho Chi Minh Trail brings together geography, history, and personal accounts to reveal the scale of the tragedy, its harmful legacies, and our memory of it. Buchanan challenges American exceptionalism and calls for redress for those harmed by US military actions during the Vietnam War and America’s subsequent wars.

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