KCM Publishing

A Saigon Journal

A Saigon Journal, Inside Television’s First War, recounts Ron Steinman’s tenure as bureau chief for NBC News in Saigon. It is an intimate and deeply personal recounting of many of the Vietnam War’s most difficult and harrowing days. These include the huge American buildup of troops, the famous hill battles in the Central Highlands, heavy fighting along the DMZ, the siege of Khe Sanh, riots against the government in the streets, Buddhist monks burning themselves to death in protest of the government and the Tet Offensive, the centerpiece of the book, when Hanoi attempted to take over South Vietnam but failed. The book also recounts the personal story of Steinman’s romance with Josephine Tu Ngoc Suong, his future wife, and her near fatal accidental shooting. During this period television news learned to cover the war with correspondents and camera crews working alongside the troops, giving people at home an intimate view of what war was really like. Dubbed the living room war, people at home watched it unfold on TV over dinner and in their living rooms, something, until then that had not been possible.
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A terrific book! Vivid, well-researched, well written. For anyone who was in Vietnam, this book will bring it all back—the sights and sounds, the atmospherics, the dangers, the frustrations. The Introduction is a valuable primer on television and war. The pages on the TET offensive are especially dramatic and suspenseful. It’s all wrapped around Ron Steinman’s personal experience as the NBC News wartime bureau chief in Saigon.
— Neil Hickey, Adjunct associate professor, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
Steinman went to Saigon as NBC news bureau chief in April 1966 before the significance of the Vietnam War was clearly evident. It was the first war to be reported by television at a time when there was less government–and network–interference in war reporting. It was also a time before technology enabled the fast and constant relay of images and news from around the world. Steinman recalls the struggles he and his staff of young, multinational correspondents faced: learning how to report a war from the front lines, how to get past the canned news offered by the government, and how to get undeveloped film shipped out of Saigon. He recalls the hardships of living in a war-torn nation and the friendships that helped advance news gathering and personal survival. Steinman also recalls his courtship of a young Vietnamese coworker whom he later married. This is an intense look behind the scenes at how television reported on the growing conflict in Vietnam and how those images influenced American public opinion of the war.
— Vanessa Bush Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Vietnam, and especially Saigon, comes alive. . . . Reading Inside Television’s First War almost made me sweat—I could feel the humid heat, crowded streets, and the sense that in this deep nowhere land something bad could happen at almost any time. . . . It’s a great read.”
— Randy Roberts
Amazing story of a world changed forever – This is a fantastic story of survival, love and a nation changed by war. Steinman takes the reader inside the war, and, even more; inside a culture. With an intimate look at the Vietnamese people, the author touches on emotions and aspects of life in the war-torn country that have been overlooked by so many other works written about this hard time in world history. This is not so much a story about the war, as it is about the people and how the war and the coverage of that war changed everything; for Vietnam and the world. I highly recommend this book.
— Reader