The Women Warriors Who Stopped the American War in Vietnam

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Sherry Buchanan, author of “On the Ho Chi Minh Trail,” discusses what she learned about the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese women who survived its frontlines. Photo courtesy of Sherry Buchanan.

The Vietnam War--or, as it is more accurately called in Vietnam, the American War--has become an inextricable and tragic part of the fabric of both Vietnamese and American society. America’s Cold War intervention in the Asian country was as much an act of neocolonialism as it was a consequence of the country’s anti-communist scourge around the globe. Despite the War’s moral implications, the mass death it wrought, the long aftermath of chemical weapon use, and the decades of physical and psychological trauma it caused Vietnamese civilians and fighters as well as American soldiers, many argues the U.S. has yet to truly grapple with what the invasion says about the country’s seemingly insatiable penchant for violent supremacy. 

In “On the Ho Chi Minh Trail: The Blood Road, the Women Who Defended It, the Legacy,” journalist Sherry Buchanan adds another chapter to the conflict’s story by recording the War’s events from the perspective of the women who fought on its frontlines. The new book is described by publisher Asia Ink as, “part travelogue, part history, and part reflective meditation, [“On the Ho Chi Minh Trail”] offers both a personal and historical exploration of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, highlighting the critical role the Trail and the young women soldiers who helped build and defend it played in the Vietnam War.” On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” the former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune joins Robert Scheer to discuss the War as two journalists who reported extensively on the conflict during various periods. Throughout, Buchanan describes her various personal encounters in Vietnam over the past 50 years, shining a spotlight on the heroic women she’s met whose stories are too often left out of historical accounts. 

Troops of the South Vietnam Liberation Army marching towards the front along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Vietnam War. August 1967. Photo by Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images.

After Scheer offers a summary of the oft forgotten colonial roots of the War and the reasons the U.S. ignominiously chose to invade Vietnam, he points to several ironies to the American approach to the Asian country then and now. Despite U.S. leaders’ justification of the War as a fight against communism in the 1960s, says the “Scheer Intelligence” host, today, as China’s capitalist triumphs seemingly threaten U.S. corporate interests, the Joe Biden administration is encouraging businesses such as Apple to move their production lines from China to Vietnam. 

Buchanan, who is also the author of “Tran Trung Tin: Paintings and Poems from Vietnam,” “Vietnam Zippos: American Soldiers' Engravings & Stories,” “Mekong Diaries: Viet Cong Drawings and Stories,” and “Vietnam Posters,” has spent many years collecting revelatory art and artefacts from the War and examining its far-reaching legacy in its various forms. Although the two agree there has been a general American blindness toward the real impact of the War, Buchanan believes that in the past five years there has been a shift in the U.S.

Listen to the full discussion between Buchanan and Scheer as the two journalists offer accounts and viewpoints critical to the conversation all Americans urgently need to have about U.S. interventionism then and now.



Joshua Scheer