Once in a blue moon a book comes along that is a genre unto itself. HO CHI MINH - A Portrait (Youth Publishing House, Hanoi, 2003) is such a book. Embracing narrative , collage, poetry, photography, and watercolor, the book presents Ho Chi Minh as one of the 20th century's major leaders. "We cannot fail to be struck by the fact that he traveled worldwide and left his mark on international events long before Mao, Gandhi, Neru, Roosevelt, Churchill or de Gaulle were heard of outside their own particular orbits," writes former U.S. intelligence officer Charles Fenn in the book's introduction. Ho Chi Minh, poet, journalist, and freedom fighter, was also exemplary in his personal life, according to the books authors, C. David Thomas and Lady Borton. But it is the book's design that yields the multidimentional aspects often absent from both biography and history. Like the delicate Vietnamese postage stamps replicated here, this book sends many messages, not the least of which is about the mysterious place where one human being's inner world intersects with history.

Ho Chi Minh wrote:
How the rice suffers under the pestle,
Yet pounded, it is as white as cotton;
In this life, we are only small grains,
Our hardship tempers us for success.

Soledad Santiago, The New Mexican, December 10, 2004

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