The Principals Daughter

Russ Katz
Available Formats
Electronic $9.99 BN Amazon
Paperback $15.95 BN Amazon
Hardcover TBD

More About This Book

The year was 1968, Vietnam, suffering from heavy battle in the far off jungles, “Wake up! Wake up!” my sister was shouting, violently shaking me. “Kim Tuyến, Kim Tuyến, wake up!” War was about to make its way to the streets of Saigon. I got up from the bed and with both of my tiny hands on the windowsill peaked out the back window into the forest. Pop pop pop pop we heard again. Yellow flashes lit up the darkness. We saw the Việt Cộng soldiers. Not one, not two, hundreds moving through our backyard. Hunched down, rifles pointing forward they moved like ants through the forest floor. Some things a girl of just 10 years old should not bare whitness too, “I didn’t know what I was looking at, a man was sprawled out on a stretcher. His stomach torn open. I could see his insides trying to escape his body.

Life was hard after the war had ended, our vibrant and fragrant blossoms, lush fruit trees, and dense forest now a distant memory, It wasn’t long before the leaves rained down from the trees. The fruit in my beloved papaya and mango trees dried up and rotted. I picked a small growing mango and held it in my hand. It was soft and mushy. Mother had passed and I lived with father, my two brothers, and two of my four sisters. Our money taken, our freedom and happiness rotted like the fruit that once flourished. I had to leave, I had to find freedom, even if it meant risking my life to do so.

Squeezed in to a secret compartment of the small fishing boats hull I sat there, my legs bent, knees up against my chest and my arms hugging my legs tightly. The man with the light told us, “keep quiet, everybody quiet, don’t make a noise,” before he stepped out. As he sealed the hatch his light eclipsed around the cracks until it was finally snuffed out. There was complete darkness. Then again they fired their AK47 machine guns. I heard the sounds of bullets hitting the side of the boat. STOP RUNNING NOW!” I heard the engines kick off and the boat came to a dead stop. "Oh my god they already catch us," I thought to myself feeling as if I had to throw up.

Life become normal after that, I conceded to the life I was given and gave up on my aspirations to escape Vietnam for America. I found happiness once more as a literature teacher. Many years passed and Vietnam was finally beginning to open up to the rest of the world which began my journey once again to finally find myself the freedom in America I had been seeking for so long.
By Agnes Chapuis on 11/27/2017 12:00:00 AM
Thanks to Dog Ear Publishing and Russ Katz for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion This book tells a story of survival of a Vietnamese family before and during the war. Knowing that the story is a true story does add to the recanted accounts. It is moving and traumatic like any war story is. There is pain, hunger, violence and distress but it is also an uplifting story which tells about the resilience of the human spirit. The book is mostly written through the eyes of Kim Tuyen, the school principal’s daughter, who was raised in Vietnam during the war. When the American arrived, her family worked for the soldiers and Kim’s life changed dramatically. The story is captivating. Like with any historical account, one feels insightful, curious, lucky and guilty to be reading about some elses’s hardship. I did not particularly enjoyed the simplicity of a foreigner’s English vocabulary, but it does make for a more authentic account of Kim’s story, and for an emotional read. It did remind me of the famous movie ‘Indochine’ with Catherine Deneuve. I am very surprised that this book has not yet gotten more coverage as it definitively is a very interesting book to read and a memorable story.
By Robert Toporek on 8/19/2017 12:00:00 AM
This book is one of my favorites. My 2nd tour of duty in Vietnam I ran a civel affairs project in a refugee outside our base camp. Kim's sister was my interpter. I was but 19 she was barley 17. A little shy but full of wanting to make a difference. Every week I would drive my Jeep to her house and pick her up. Sometimes I would have a meal with her family. One day I left Vietnam abruplty and did not say goodbye. For 50 years I worried and wondered what happened to them and wallah out of the blue Russ Katz told me where they were. Because of him we reunited. There is a chapter in the book about that project that was just sooooo well done. The rest of the book is also great. Thank you Russ
By Jennifer on 5/10/2017 12:00:00 AM
My deepest thanks to Russ Katz for bringing this story to life! In “The Principal’s Daughter” we are introduced to Kim, whose father is the principal of the school in the South Vietnamese village they live in near Saigon. Kim grows up during the war and her village becomes the center of the Tet Offensive when she is still a young girl. She endures the deprivations of the war and subsequent Communist regime with the hope of one day emigrating to America. I found this story to be very moving and enlightening. Reading Kim’s story opened my understanding of the Vietnam War in a new way, and introduced me to a culture I previously had no knowledge of. I was also very impressed with the author’s writing. This book was fairly easy to read, although there is use of Vietnamese language, particularly names, which threw me a bit in places. As I understand it, this is the author’s second book and first piece of non-fiction, and I just have to say, “Job well done”. The personalities of the people come through in a way that I felt as if I was sitting with them hearing the story from their lips. I think that stories like this go a long way towards helping us as individuals to see the people of other cultures as not just different but as fellow humans on a journey to fulfillment. I hope that many people will read this book and allow it to give them new insight.
By Fatma on 2/23/2017 12:00:00 AM
I started the book with big hope, loving the introduction to Kim and her family , I loved the simple life and description of Vietnam.It was intense in describing the war and how it effect them. It reminds me of my experience of a war. The electricity going out, and using gas lanterns. If people knew how hard is wars and how it shape people. The book describes the time of Saigon was surrounded and how the family trying to survive in these hectic times. I was sometimes confuse with the names( I understand the writer keeping it real ) , but this is rich story of little girl and her life.
By Jacqie on 2/22/2017 12:00:00 AM
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Two stars seems a bit harsh, but according to Goodreads that means "it was okay" and that's the feeling I have. This book is essentially a memoir. The author met Kim decades after she escaped from Vietnam- I believe she was a hairdresser or something like that? that he met while going about his daily errands. She told him just a bit about her life and he was captivated, felt he had the idea for his next book. So the bulk of the book is his transcribing and organizing of her memories. Kim's family lived in South Vietnam, fairly near Saigon, I believe (it's been a while since I read this book). Her family worked with the American soldiers who occupied the country, and Kim is definitely pro-American. Her tale is indeed tragic and it's amazing that she survived. However, the writing didn't really do the story any favors. You know how some authors will have non-English-speaking characters talk in a sort of awkward way to give the idea that English is not their first language? The whole book was written that way, really. Maybe he was trying to give Kim an authentic voice, but it removed me from the story and made it feel almost like a kids' book due to the simplicity of the language. Often spoken language doesn't transcribe well if done word-for-word, and I think that could have been the case here. I didn't enjoy reading the book for this reason and ended up skimming to see how things ended.
By Sue Leon on 1/25/2017 12:00:00 AM
I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Principal’s Daughter takes you on a journey with Kim Tuyen and her family. It takes place in Vietnam and Author Katz takes the opportunity to tell her story through the eyes of herself and her family members. The different perspectives add to the storytelling. This is a family of survivors. We learn of the difficulties of life before, during and after the war years. We hear about hunger, violence, as well as mind and cultural control by the Northern regime. Kim’s story and that of her family was amazing and engrossing. I hope Katz writes additional novels because I will be first in line to read them. Thank you to the Author, Russ Katz, Dog Ear Publishing, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this most enjoyable book.
By Allison on 1/13/2017 12:00:00 AM
The Principal's Daughter was an especially poignant book for me, and this is a pretty personal review. I received it from NetGalley in return for an honest review, and I have to say I am so happy to have read it. My reading goal this year is to read around the world, one letter per country, and I was glad to have picked this up for my Vietnam goal. Growing up just outside of D.C, this book hits home for me in a number of ways. I think one of Northern Virginia's finest qualities is the diversity there. I grew up with many friends from all over the world, and never thought twice about it. But therein lies the problem. One of my best friends is Vietnamese, and I never thought about their narrative, or what trials and tribulations they had gone through to come to America. At least in Northern Virginia schools, even in my history classes at GWU, and I suspect most everywhere all over the country, I feel as though the Vietnam war is almost taboo, quickly discussed and thrown under the rug. I never really learned more than a few key words, the parallel, the north and south, communism, and that the US didnt do so hot over there, hippies, and the end. I really wonder, growing up, how many people I have passed, that have this same story as Kim. I am so glad that Russ Katz took the time to write this story because it needs to be told to everyone and is especially imperative in todays society. I want to thank him for opening my otherwise very American jaded eyes to a story I've never been told. My only critique is that there were quite a few misspelled words, and I wish the storytelling had been a little more clear, the end was beautiful, but felt a little rushed. An excellent read and well worth the time!!
By Erica on 12/24/2016 12:00:00 AM
I really enjoyed this book! It is a true story of a young woman and her family as they undergo the siege of Saigon during the Vietnam war. The main character, Kim, tells her story starting from childhood. As the story unfolds, other members of her family share their story. It is well written and flows nicely between family members.
By Fiona Yule on 12/1/2016 12:00:00 AM
Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for my preview in return for an honest review. I loved this book. I requested it as I loved the colourful cover and the synopsis interested me. A Vietnamese family caught in Vietnam during and after the American, and the subsequent Communist regime under Ho Chi Ming. Kim lives with her family in South Vietnam and lives a very happy comfortable life being the daughter of the local principal. Then the Americans arrive and their lives change. Forever. Kim narrates her story beautifully. We know she survives as the author introduces her at the beginning of the novel. Kym’s journey from 10 year old child at the start of the war to her arrival in America is a remarkable one. She takes the reader through her family’s experiences of the war, using different narrators to tell their stories. And some of them are horrifying. All this is told in the context of the workings of a close family unit; what they eat, what clothes they wore, their customs and family traditions, but also how they coped during the war and the Communist era, and how others did not cope. It’s an extraordinary tale of resilience and courage but related in an engaging way. Would definitely recommend this book I had tears in my eyes at the end.
By Sharonda _Isadora on 11/30/2016 12:00:00 AM
I finished this a while back and for the most part I enjoyed it. Mr. Katz was very authentic as he could be in telling this story of Kim and her growing up in Vietnam during the war but to be honest I wished it was told from the people he obtain his information from. Still, it's a good story.
By Lili Hadsell on 11/30/2016 12:00:00 AM
This was a fantastic story about an inspirational woman, Kim who lives during the Vietnam war and experiences not only their quest for freedom, but also her own. Kim is a resilient soul whose dreams are destroyed and it is up to her bravery and hope to remake them. This is not a typical story and it is one that will both teach you something about Vietnam and touch your heart. Rich in description and food references, the world comes alive and while we will never be able to know these experiences, we begin to get a glimmer of these moments: both good and bad. Notes: I loved the book! I will be posting a review on my blog,, on December 7th and will update this review when it goes live. Additionally I will be posting my review on Netgalley within the next two days from now.
By USOM on 11/29/2016 12:00:00 AM
The fact that this novel is based on a true story elevates it from a moving tale to something far more poignant. The Principle’s Daughter looks at a snippet of Kim’s life as a South Vietnamese girl growing up amidst the Vietnam War. Kim’s experience of her homeland and family being torn apart by war is emotional and supported by snippets of other family members’ lives. Katz paints a picture of a time forgotten and an abandoned land. His writing is both factual, but also emotional and he is able to convey emotion without passing judgement. It is both a learning experience, and an unforgettable story. Through Kim’s perspective, we are given insight into her struggles and experience with suffering some of us have never begun to experience. These fragments display her youthful innocence and naivety as well as her crushing grief and fear of, and for, the future. This story explores complicated emotions that range from hopeful optimism to severe doubt. disclaimer: I Received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley
By on 11/21/2016 12:00:00 AM
This was a tastefully written book about what a family went through in Vietnam and how they got their freedom from Communism. I didn't want to put the book down until I got to the end. I wanted to know what happened and I was cheering them on to get to safety of any kind. I would recommend this book.
By Tripower53 on 11/13/2016 12:00:00 AM
I knew little about Vietnam other than living through the war myself. I watched the protests here at home and lost friends over there. One of my favorite movies remains “The Killing Fields” about the journalist Sydney Schanberg and his friend Dith Pran. While that movie is primarily about Cambodia, I believe much applies to Vietnam as well. This book opened my eyes to a whole new facet of the Vietnam war; the people; the villagers who had to live through it, not only when the US pulled out, but for years after as well. It is a well written and thoughtful accounting of the day to day life of one young woman. Her terror and hardships were heart wrenching. If you’d like a down to earth account of the war, this is the book for you. No who is right or wrong, just what was the reality for one woman. I would like to read more from Russ Katz. Thank you to Netgalley and Dog Ear Publishing for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.
Kirkus Reviews
By on 10/21/2016 12:00:00 AM
… an absorbing taste of the everyday in a place that that was the victim of superpower geopolitics …
By Ken on 10/8/2016 12:00:00 AM
The Principal's Daughter takes the reader on a journey through the many hardships Kim Tuyen and her family endured during and after the Vietnam war and how Kim Tuyen ultimately left her country and joined her sister in America. Through the eyes of Kim Tuyen and her family, the author masterfully weaves in Vietnam's history and culture and gives the reader a view of what life was like during the war and under Vietnam's oppressive communist regime. The book is well-written, captivating, and inspiring. I highly recommend it to all.
Dog Ear Publishing
By Leslie Wilhelm Hatch on 4/25/2016 12:00:00 AM
The Principal’s Daughter gives a view of Vietnam that probably few people have ever thought about or read about. Russ Katz’s story telling style is very approachable --- it's very emotional, but not overly so -- he lets the facts and the people tell their story without bias or political overtones. The fact that the story is true makes it even stronger. Katz is able to share a lot about Vietnamese culture, growing up in Vietnam, the war itself (how it affected the characters), the country's customs, and the workings of Communism. He shares all this in the context of the story-- so not only was I entertained and enthralled, but I learned a lot as well.
Kevin Anderson & Associates
By Dr. Terry Hummer, Editor & Publishing Consultant on 11/11/2015 12:00:00 AM
This manuscript tells an extraordinary story, a story that deserves to be told to as many people as want to know about it. And there are many facets of the present draft of The Principal’s Daughter that are very, very well done indeed. It is, up to a point, very effectively put together. The material is rich, that characters are vivid, and the narrative itself is riveting and moving.
Kevin Anderson & Associates
By Dr. Terry Hummer, Editor & Publishing Consultant on 11/11/2015 12:00:00 AM
I don’t think I’ve ever read a piece of prose that so galvanized my attention--
Kevin Anderson & Associates
By Dr. Terry Hummer, Editor & Publishing Consultant on 11/11/2015 12:00:00 AM
Whatever you do with this, keep Kim’s spirit alive. She is a Personage. You are lucky to know her. I am lucky to know something about her now. That character, that family, that place in the mango trees: magic. You got yourself a million acres of magic here, pal. Don’t screw it up! (You won’t, because you know it’s magic.)