US publisher buys rights to Vietnamese book on deadly sea battle with China

By Trong Truong   July 9, 2018 | 05:07 pm PT
US publisher buys rights to Vietnamese book on deadly sea battle with China
An aerial view of Southwest Cay, controlled by Vietnam and part of the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea. Photo by Reuters
The book about the battle that saw 64 Vietnamese die defending Spratly reefs from China will be distributed worldwide in English.

A U.S. publishing house has bought the rights to translate into English and publish worldwide a new Vietnamese book about its deadly battle against China in the South China Sea, which Vietnam calls the East Sea.

The book, "Gac Ma-Immortal Circle," recounts a battle in 1988 that saw China invade Vietnam's Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in the Spratly Islands, as well as the stories behind the 64 Vietnamese soldiers who died defending the reef.

James Zumwalt, an internationally acclaimed U.S. author and former Vietnam War veteran, represented the Florida-based publishing house Fortis at a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City last Sunday to discuss the deal.

All the money from the deal would reportedly be used to support the families of the veterans that fought and the soldiers that died defending Gac Ma.

The Gac Ma book was released at the end of last month and 10,000 copies were sold in nine days. The second edition was released with 20,000 copies on Tuesday.

In four chapters and 328 pages, the book describes in details the Gac Ma battle that took place on March 14 1988, as well as the pain and the irreparable losses of the families of the battle's fallen soldiers.

Commissioned by Ho Chi Minh City-based publisher First News in 2014, the book was penned by Major General Le Ma Luong with the help of many Vietnamese military officials, historians and journalists, as the first Vietnamese book on the battle.

The Gac Ma battle is part of a series of skirmishes between Vietnamese and Chinese navies in the Spratly Islands in which China attempted to take Gac Ma, Len Dao (Lansdowne) and Co Lin (Collins) reefs.

The battle reportedly started on the morning of March 14, 1988 when Chinese warships approached the three reefs and disrupted Vietnamese soldiers' construction work.

In Gac Ma, Chinese soldiers and warships opened fire on the Vietnamese men, sank their navy ship HQ 604 and took down the Vietnamese flag.

Vietnamese soldiers however managed to prevent China from taking Co Lin by running the ship HQ 505 aground on the reef, and defended Len Dao despite the HQ 605, which was stationed at the reef, being shot at and sank the following day.

China has since been occupying Gac Ma Reef, and has repeatedly refused to let Vietnam retrieve the remains of the soldiers that fell during the battle.

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