In April 1975, the U.S. government evacuated nearly three thousand displaced Vietnamese children just before the fall of Saigon. Chaotic from start to finish, Operation Babylift gripped the American public and was often presented as a great humanitarian effort. Now, thirty-five years after the war ended, Dana Sachs examines the rescue more carefully, revealing how a single public-policy gesture irrevocably altered thousands of lives, not always for the better.

With sensitivity and balance, Sachs presents multiple perspectives: foreign adoption volunteers trying to "save" children; birth mothers making the wrenching decision to relinquish them; adoptive families waiting anxiously to adopt them; and the children themselves, struggling to understand. In particular, the book follows one such child, Anh Hansen, who left Vietnam through Operation Babylift and, decades later, returned to meet her birth mother. Through Anh’s story, and those of many others, The Life We Were Given will inspire impassioned discussion on the human cost of war, international adoption and aid efforts, and U.S. involvement in Vietnam.


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© Dana Sachs 2007

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