They Don’t Speak English Here by Sean C. Little

The ostensible author of They Don’t Speak English Here: Vietnam Through The Eyes of a Child (American Book Publishing, 180 pp., $19.95) is a seven-year-old American boy, Sean C. Little, the son of a Vietnam veteran Mike Little who served as an Army MP in 1968 in the Central Highlands where he grew close to a people known by some as Montagnards.

This book is about a trip back to Vietnam to visit those people, and it is told in Sean’s voice, a voice mostly one of innocent wonder. Sean (who was born in 1992) makes many comments about how everywhere he went in Vietnam he got his cheeks pinched, but the why of that ritual was never clear to this reader.

Near the end of this short book, there is a short chapter written by Mike Little about human rights violations of the Vietnamese against the Montagnards and how Mike was prevented by the Vietnamese from having more contact with them to give them medicine and money.

Mike Little was labeled a “humanitarian” rather than the tourist his visa claimed he was, so he was expelled from Vietnam when he tried to visit later than the trip delineated in this book.

Ultimately, this book is sad and moving.

You can watch Sean and Mike Little discuss the book on their YouTube video.

—David Willson