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The Ignorance of Bliss: An American Kid in Saigon

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“Very early in my life I became a self-appointed spy.”

The Ignorance of Bliss tells the true story of ten-year-old Sandy, who moves with her American military family to Saigon, Vietnam where her father, the Colonel, serves as a military advisor to the South Vietnamese Army.

In 1960s Saigon, Sandy finds a world of crushing poverty and extraordinary beauty; a world of streets, villas, and brothels, where politics and intrigue reside between plot and counterplot. Blissfully living a life of French decadence, Sandy maneuvers between coups, spies, bombings, corruption, and scandal as she and her thirteen-year-old brother, Tom, run an illicit baby powder and Hershey bar business on the black market and live a life of school, scouts, dance parties, and movies at the underground theater.

When the Colonel’s counterpart, Colonel Le Van Sam, delivers an expose on the current ruling Diem regime, Sandy finds that her constant spying on her father’s activities has brought her face to face with the reality of Vietnam and the anti-American sentiment that pervades it. This coming-of age story takes place in a turbulent country striving for nationalism, giving the reader a stunning look into the life of military dependents living abroad and the underlying ignorance that surrounded a little understood time in history.