CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Leslie Aparvary

Calgary, Detselig Enterprises, 1989. 350pp, paper, $17.95
ISBN 0-920490-93-X.CIP

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up
Reviewed by Jean Farquharson.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

In a period when people are very concerned about human rights, it is timely to read the story of a man who was sold to the world's toughest army, in which the value of life meant nothing. In 1948, Hungarian Leslie Aparvary, age twenty-seven, fleeing persecution in Soviet occupied countries, was tricked into signing up for service in the French Foreign Legion by a so-called friend, who collected 600 francs for the deed. Unable to escape, Aparvary began a two-year odyssey, which led to Indo­china (now Vietnam). During this time, Aparvary kept a journal.

The journal format is unusual in that the author uses vivid description and witty dialogue to tell his harrowing account of himself and his many friends as they are transferred from station to station in the fight against the elusive enemy, the Vietminh. The unbearable heat and humidity, the tough discipline and the harsh conditions resulted in serious health problems, and after two years Aparvary was sent back to France and discharged.

After immigrating to Canada in 1952, Aparvary trained and worked as a geologist in the oil industry until he retired in 1985, when he decided to publish his journal. Each chapter has a map to assist the reader in following the journey. Many tiny black-and-white photographs illustrate the camps, sights and friends; enlarging them would nave made them less obscure. The book has not been well edited. There are many spelling, typographical, grammatical and punctuation errors, which are inexcusable.

Readers who know little of Vietnam­ese history will need to search elsewhere to find out how this story fits into world history. Nevertheless, the book is a good read for lovers of adventure stories and interesting background reading on Vietnam.

Jean Farquharson, Paris, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works