The year is 1990. Vietnam and America have not yet made peace. Vietnam is freshly wounded from fighting border wars with China and on the eve of becoming a market economy. The first bombing of the World Trade Center is three years away, so America is not yet awake to the dangers of terrorism. Vietnam and America begin to recognize the importance of ending their differences. Mission in Paris 1990 is the story of how an American media tycoon, Robert Samberg, whose youth in 1968 tied him to Vietnam’s future, is recruited to serve his country, never expecting that a mission to explore political reconciliation would lead him to a path of personal reconciliation. On the eve of his greatest business triumph, he rediscovers My Hanh, a long-lost love from Vietnam, and learns they have a son. Robert’s life is upended in this tale about the enduring strength of love and the power of forgiveness. This novel, set during the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam, explores reconciliation among people and nations. It also tells a powerful love story – between a man and a woman as well as between a father and a son.
When I was approached about reviewing this book, the premise intrigued me. I love all things French, I was young in the 90s. I was unsure about the Vietnam War aspects as I don’t usually read too many books that are political or military at all, but it is good to step outside your reading zones sometimes and I thought this book looked like a great opportunity to read outside my own lines.
Mission in Paris is a sequel to Hearts on Fire, Paris 1968, which I haven’t read. It wasn’t difficult to tie the threads together though while reading Mission in Paris, so that did not impact my reading of this book at all.
One thing that stood out to me was how much pain these characters were in. Robert carries a world of hurt and anger around inside of him, and it is easy to see how he became jaded, and built a wall around himself that he seemed to only let Macallan whiskey through (and his horse of the same name). The book begins with a hardened Robert celebrating a business triumph, one that is far more personal to him than just business. At this same time, he learns that he is being tapped to travel to Vietnam, on a mission to gain some sort of peace between the countries. Upon landing, he is swept up into the world of his youth, speaking at the funeral of his mentor, who is also the father of his one true love, My Hanh, and begins another journey towards a peace of a different kind.
From here the book takes the reader on many twists and turns, personal, and political. Robert’s life is tailspin, caught between the past and the present, and the emotions that lie between the two. I never knew where this book was going to take me next, and I loved being swept along with Robert and My Hanh.
This short book packs a punch, and is full of political intrigue, action, history, patriotism, lies, secrets, struggle, redemption, and love. I enjoyed it so much that I need to read the first in the series, even with already knowing what happens between Robert and My Hanh – I want the whole story!
Thank you to Red Clover Digital for the opportunity to read and review this book!