Thi, Lam Quang 1932–
Thi, Lam Quang 1932–
PERSONAL: Born May 7, 1932, in Bac Lieu Province, Vietnam. Education: National Military Academy, Dalat, Vietnam, graduated, 1951; earned a bachelor's degree in France; Golden Gate University, M.B.A.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, University of North Texas Press, P.O. Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336.
CAREER: Army of the Republic of Vietnam, career officer: battery commander in North Vietnam, Laos, and Central Vietnam, 1951, deputy commander of an infantry division, 1965–68, superintendent of National Military Academy, 1968–72, deputy commander general of I Corps, Danang, 1972–73, commander general of I Corps Forward, Hue, beginning 1973; left service as lieutenant general, c. 1975.
MEMBER: Association of Veterans of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (past chair, leadership committee).
AWARDS, HONORS: Military decorations include Vietnamese National Order, third degree; Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with seventeen combat citations; Merit Thai; U.S. Legion of Merit; and Korean Order of Chung Mu.
Autopsy: The Death of South Vietnam, Sphinx Publishing, 1986.
The Twenty-five-Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon, University of North Texas Press (Denton, TX), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Lam Quang Thi is a former South Vietnamese general who provides his unique perspective on the Vietnamese conflict in his memoir, The Twenty-five-Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon. Thi, who received training in the United States during the late 1950s, documents the Indochina War that spanned the years 1950 to 1975. He is candid in his assessment of the failures of both the South Vietnamese and the United States and its Western supporters.
John Grider Miller, who reviewed the book for United States Naval Institute: Proceedings, noted that the translation suffers from grammatical errors and that one figure is misidentified, but he concluded that "despite these relatively minor flaws, this is a mustread book. Lam Quang Thi has provided a powerful and detailed map of a road to disaster, which should be particularly enlightening to Americans who got off the bus before it went off the cliff."
Thi writes that while many American advisors worked to create positive relationships with their Vietnamese counterparts, others did not, presuming U.S. superiority. He also points to the faults of the military leadership of South Vietnam. He provides the reader with an overview of the Vietnamese culture and family values, including the importance of birth rank. Although he outranked his older brother, Tho, he obeyed Tho both in family and military matters. The brothers, who were born to a wealthy land-owning family, were two of the first Vietnamese to receive French commissions. Thi was a brigadier general in 1966 at the age of thirty-three and was promoted to lieutenant general in 1972.
James H. Willbanks wrote in Military Review that there have been very few books written about the Vietnam War from the South Vietnamese perspective, and that "Thi is also brutally frank in his assessment of South Vietnam's fall, but he does not fall into the 'how we might have won' syndrome. He lays part of the blame on America's failure to provide promised support, but he also acknowledges South Vietnam's shortcomings, which contributed to the defeat."
Thi told CA: "[My] primary motivation for writing these books was to present the view from the other side of the story. Many books have been written on the Vietnam war by U.S. politicians, journalists, and historians, and also by officials from the Hanoi regime and former Vietcong officials, but very few were written by officials of the former Republic of South Vietnam and Army of the Republic of Vietnam generals. My books try to rectify this unfortunate imbalance by presenting the views—long neglected—of those who fought for the cause of freedom and democracy.
"I graduated from the Inter-Arms Military School of Dalat, Vietnam, in 1951. I also graduated from the French Artillery School, the United States Artillery and Guided Missile School, the United States Special Warfare School, and the United States Command and General Staff College. I fought in the Indochina War as a battery commander in North Vietnam, Laos, and Central Vietnam. In 1964 I was deputy commander of the Seventh Infantry Division. In 1965, at the age of thirty-two, I assumed command of the Ninth Infantry Division in the heart of the Mekong Delta. From 1968 to 1972 I was superintendent of the Republic of Vietnam National Military Academy, where I instituted for the first time a four-year curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in general engineering.
"When North Vietnam launched the 1972 Great Offensive, I was appointed deputy commanding general of I Corps in Danang. I was appointed commander general of I Corps Forward in Hue in 1973. In the latter position, as commander of an Army Corps Task Force, I was responsible for tactical operations in the Republic's two northernmost provinces of Quang Tri and Thua Thien, near the Demilitarized Military Zone."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Thi, Lam Quang, The Twenty-five-Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon, University of North Texas Press (Denton, TX), 2002.
Booklist, March 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of The Twenty-five-Year Century, p. 1208.
Houston Chronicle, November 8, 1998, Carlos Byars, "American, Vietnamese Veterans Honored at Vietnam War Seminar," p. 40.
Military Review, May-June, 2004, James H. Willbanks, review of The Twenty-five-Year Century, p. 72.
Review of American History, March, 2003, Charles E. Neu, review of The Twenty-five-Year Century, p. 161.
United States Naval Institute: Proceedings, December, 2002, John Grider Miller, review of The Twenty-five-Year Century, p. 78.