POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Dana Sachs, an author who has written about Vietnam for 20 years, will discuss the content of her latest book, The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam, on Wednesday, April 21 at Vassar College. The program, a C. Mildred Thompson Lecture, will begin at 5:30pm in Sanders Hall, Spitzer Auditorium (room 212), and is free and open to the public.
In her book, to be published on the 35th anniversary of this event, Sachs details “Operation Babylift” and its aftermath. This operation was a highly publicized U.S.-backed plan to evacuate Vietnamese orphans at the end of the Vietnam War and bring them to the United States for adoption. Nearly 3,000 babies and children were airlifted out of South Vietnam, often in chaotic and dangerous circumstances, in the weeks leading up to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.
It turns out that many of these children weren’t orphans at all and were desperate to go home, and their parents were desperate to find them. Alternating between historical accounts of the evacuation, often recounted by those directly involved, and present-day stories of Babylift adoptees, Sachs explores questions regarding adoption, international aid efforts, and the human cost of war.
Sachs is the author of The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (Algonquin, 2000) and the novel If You Lived Here (William Morrow, 2007). She co-edited, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam, Two Cakes Fit For a King: Folktales from Vietnam (University of Hawaii Press, 2003). Her translations of Vietnamese fiction have been published widely. Her articles, reviews, and essays have appeared in many publications, including National Geographic, Travel and Leisure Family, and The International Herald Tribune. A graduate of Wesleyan University and the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Sachs served as a Fulbright Scholar in Hanoi in 2006. She teaches in the Honors Scholars Program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
The C. Mildred Thompson Lecture, sponsored by the Department of History, honors the former Vassar graduate, professor of history, and dean of the college.
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.