The Long Reckoning: The Toxic Legacy of the Vietnam War
November 28th, 2023 5:30PM -7:00PM
Fifty years after the Paris Peace Treaty ended U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, the people of Vietnam still grapple with the deadly legacy of years of war – unexploded ordinances, dioxin contamination, and rural poverty and dislocation. The U.S. government was for decades unwilling to acknowledge that its tactics, including defoliating 44 provinces in Vietnam and massive bombing campaigns, left a toxic footprint that remains today.
Join the World Affairs Council as we explore the lasting consequences of the Vietnam War in both Vietnam and the United States with George Black, author of The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam. Black will be joined by former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak. Journalist, storyteller, and filmmaker Thanh Tan will moderate the conversation.
Make sure you arrive at 5:30 pm to enjoy a glass of wine and a chance to mingle with fellow World Affairs Council enthusiasts!
About the Speakers
George Black is a writer, journalist, and editorial consultant living in New York City.
His new book, The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam, was published by Knopf on March 28, 2023, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of the last American combat troops from Vietnam.
He is the author of seven previous books on subjects ranging from the Chinese democracy movement to the River Ganges, from conflict in Central America to the 19th century exploration of the American West, as well as many long-form magazine articles on international politics, culture, and the environment. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and dozens of other publications. Both his books and his magazine work have won numerous awards and honors.
In addition to an abiding passion for rivers, mountains, and faraway places, he has been struggling for the past decade with a serious case of addiction to Southeast Asia. Despite traveling to more than 50 countries and spending most of his adult life in the United States, part of his heart remains in his native Scotland. He is married to the writer Anne Nelson. They have two children, David and Julia.
Ambassador (ret.) Michael W. Michalak joined the US-ASEAN Business Council in September 2015 and was the Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director. He oversaw the Council’s six offices in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from the Council’s regional headquarters in Singapore, and led the Council’s regional advocacy efforts and engaged regularly with key ASEAN policymakers and thought leaders to offer his unique perspective on the key role U.S. businesses can play in ASEAN. He also managed, coached and developed the Council’s most critical resource: its staff.
Amb. Michalak also worked as an independent business consultant focused on Asia and particularly Vietnam. He served as Senior Advisor to the private sector host committee of the U.S. APEC Year (2011). His diplomatic career with the U.S. State Department spanned more 30 years and included postings to Tokyo, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Islamabad, Pakistan; Beijing, China; as well as Washington, D.C. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam from August 2007 to February 2011. Prior to his position in Vietnam, Amb. Michalak was Ambassador and Senior U.S. Official to APEC. He also served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. In addition, he received a group award for valor for his actions in time of crisis when the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was burned down. Amb. Michalak began his career as a research physicist at NASA.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He received a second Master's degree in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He speaks Japanese and Chinese.
About our Moderator
Thanh Tân is a Vietnamese American storyteller and filmmaker based in Seattle, Washington. An award-winning journalist who started her career in local television newsrooms, her reporting and writing aims to generate conversation and solve problems, resulting in work that has been featured across all platforms, from This American Life and The Texas Tribune to The Seattle Times and The New York Times. As a brand storyteller, she has traveled around the world telling true stories for Microsoft about the impact of tech and joined Starbucks in 2021 to craft mission-driven narratives about the global ritual of coffee as a means to connect people.
Passionate about history and making sense of her own experiences as a child of Vietnamese boat refugees, Thanh created and hosted Second Wave, a groundbreaking podcast series from KUOW and PRX centered on the stories of Vietnamese people after the Vietnam War. In 2020, she co-founded Viet Fact Check to fight the scourge of misinformation impacting non-English speaking communities. When Kabul fell in August 2021, she co-founded Viets for Afghans, a Vietnamese American-led volunteer mutual aid project that mobilized communities to parlay our shared lived experience into helping today’s refugees. That work led to her directorial debut, the 5-part docuseries for KCTS called Refuge After War.
She is currently working on her next projects, including a film that reveals the untold stories of South Vietnamese soldiers who fought the last battle of the Vietnam War and a multimedia documentary that will deep dive into the human toll of misinformation on the Vietnamese American community and solutions to navigate this era of disinformation and deep fakes.
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