Tram, Dang Thuy 1943-1970
Tram, Dang Thuy 1943-1970
Born 1943, in Hanoi, Vietnam; died 1970. Education: M.D. Politics: Communist. Hobbies and other interests: Music, playing guitar, reading.
Physician. Military service: North Vietnam Army physician, 1968-1970.
A hospital in Duc Pho, Vietnam, was named in her honor; there is also a memorial to mark the spot where she was killed.
Bi Mat Ve Nguoi My Lam song Lai Dang Thuy Tram, Nha xuat ban Van hoa dan toc: Cong ty van hoa & truyen thong Vo Thi (Hanoi, Vietnam), 2005.
Nhat ky dang Thuy Tram, Nha xuat ban Van hoa nha van (Hanoi, Vietnam), 2005.
Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram, translated by Andrew X. Pham, introduction by Frances Fitzgerald, notes by Jane Barton Griffith, Robert Whitehurst, and Dang Kim Tram, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2007.
It is only by chance that the diaries of Dang Thuy Tram were ever published. A field doctor for the North Vietnamese, Tram worked under horrific conditions from 1968 to 1970 while her country was under attack by the Americans. Her diary records her thoughts, including her love for a Viet Cong soldier who was the reason she joined the army and left her comfortable home and loving family behind in Hanoi. Her entries end after two years because she was shot in the head by an American soldier. Her diaries, two small books initially recovered alongside her body, were eventually discovered by an American lawyer named Fred Wilkinson. It was his job to go through documents that had been captured by the Americans; many of these were destroyed, but an interpreter who came across the diaries asked Wilkinson not to burn them. Wilkinson complied, and for thirty-five years he looked for Tram's family in an attempt to give the books back to them. He eventually did find them in 2005, and the diaries were published in Tram's native land, where they became a best seller. Her people were so touched by her words that they erected a memorial and named a hospital after her. Two years later, the diaries were translated by Andrew X. Pham as Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram.
Some critics found the diary a little rambling and short on the details of war and life in an under-supplied field hospital, facts that they would probably have found interesting. Other reviewers, however, commented that Tram never wrote the diary entries with the intent of their being published, and so she should be forgiven if her thoughts ramble and wander. She was writing for herself. Either way, many reviewers found much of value in Tram's recorded thoughts, often finding them poignant and heart wrenching. Her longing for home, her desire for the man she loves and only refers to as "M," and her hatred for the Americans who bomb her country and kill the people she knows are all recorded with a sincerity that cannot be denied. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the emotions are so intense that "at times [they are] almost unbearable." A number of critics valued the book for offering a compassionate view into the mind of a former "enemy" of the United States. Kay Johnson, writing in Time International, felt that Tram "offers a rare combination of lyricism, grit, passion and humanity," and in O, the Oprah Magazine Francine Prose described the diary as "a gift from a heroine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2007, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram.
Library Journal, August 1, 2007, Patti C. McCall, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, p. 97.
O, the Oprah Magazine, September, 2007, Francine Prose, "Saved from the Fire: A Young Vietnamese Doctor Leaves behind a Stunning, Passionate Diary," p. 244.
Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2007, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, p. 46.
School Library Journal, December, 2007, Jodi Mitchell, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, p. 163.
Telegram (London, England), January 26, 2008, Helen Brown, "What It Feels Like for a Girl," review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
Time International, December 31, 2007, Kay Johnson, "Casualties of War," p. 106.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (March 3, 2008), John T. Slania, "Young Doctor's Voice Outlasts War," review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
California Literary Review Online,http://calitreview.com/ (August 13, 2007), John R. Guthrie, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
Dang Thuy Tram,http://www.ThuyTram.com (March 3, 2008).
Radar,http://www.radaronline.com/ (September 1, 2007), Cara Parks, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.
Vietnam Veterans of America Web site,http://www.vva.org/ (October 1, 2007), Marc Leepson, review of Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.