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A Wavering Grace

Gavin Young
Date Published
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As an Observer correspondent in Vietnam before the American withdrawal in 1975, Gavin Young met many courageous Vietnamese people. He frequently stayed with one such person, Madame Bong, a woman who had lost her husband when she was only twenty-five, had recovered the mangled limbs of one son from a battlefield and watched as another son was sent off to a ‘re-education camp’ for seven years.

When Young was allowed to return to Vietnam he helped many of Madame Bong’s relatives emigrate to the US. A Wavering Grace is a personal account of how one ordinary family survived the horrors of war and a political process that was beyond their control.

‘By far … the most moving account of Vietnam to be written in recent years.’ Norman Lewis

‘This delicate, terrible and enchanting book … brings the atmosphere of Vietnam so near that you can almost taste and smell it.’ Jonathan Mirsky, The Times

‘Full of passion and feeling … A Wavering Grace could be described as a love story [and] tells the story of Vietnam and Mme Bong’s family in its many conflicting complexions.’ Andrew Barrow, Spectator


Gavin Young (1929-2001) was a journalist, writer, and briefly a member of MI6. As a journalist, he was most associated with the Observer, being in the words of Mark Frankland’s obituary ‘a star foreign correspondent’. When disenchantment with journalism set in he turned to the writing of books. The two most famous ones are Slow Boats to China and its…

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