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REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Apologies to Yogi Bera, but Deja Vu all over again...fits!
By Optimist 

With apologies to baseball great, Mr. Yogi Bera, this book could have been titled "Deja Vu All Over Again" or as well "Coming Full Circle". This is compelling reading; where a young man experienced war in Vietnam, entered the foreign service and spent part of his career on the POW/MIA issue, becoming such an expert on Asia and US diplomacy with regard to Asia, that the Dept. of State chose the author for extraordinary missions to Thailand, Vietnam, and finally...China. This is the story of his and his family's hardships, and more important, their successes in reestablishing diplomatic negotiations with Vietnam, a country with whom relations with the US were severed after the war. It is a remarkable story, and one that is on-going. The relationship is growing daily, especially with Vietnam becoming a major manufacturer of goods, many of which, like China, end up here in the USA. Vietnam is making great strides in many areas, for example in Biotech, leather goods and so other areas. Bravo, capitalism!!

This book will furnish keen insight and understanding of the Vietnamese culture and mentality. Much can be understood by reading the accounts of negotiations between the two countries over facilitation, transportation privileges, and diplomatic accreditation.

Whether you are a student of world history, military affairs, eons-old Asian culture, or just someone who wants to relish this interesting , well-written and photo-rich book; this is a helluva good read.

The tale is told in a highly personal way, with solid descriptions of the frustrations and joys of the US diplomatic service.The author misses no opportunity to introduce some levity as it happened in his career. His wife, like all wives and spouses of persons in service to their country, gets to tell her story..also fascinating. Mr. Runckel gives much credit to other persons in and out of the US government including US expat businessmen as well as Vietnamese government officials and private citizens who are part of his "coming full circle".

It is not at all surprising that tourist bureaus in both countries are doing a booming business in arranging tours for many GIs who are returning to visit the battlefields where they instantly lost their youth, and sadly, their best buddies. This kind of ending is not unique as we find some of our best international fiends in Germany and Japan, our former enemies. Why should Vietnam be any different?

The author avoids politicizing this tome and says very little about the difference in political systems. And in saying nothing, this candid account says volumes about the ways of life as they are.

My heroes are those who have given every bit of their energy to the service of their country, family, and fellow-human beings. After reading this fabulous book, you will have no wonder about who the heroes in this saga were/are.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
by Bill Lindsey, Retired Associate Dean and Director Executive MBA, Loyola Marymount University

Mr. Runckel provides a nicely balanced, behind the scene account of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam. He blends historical events with his and his family's personal experiences and insights gained while living and working with the Vietnamese people. The result is a rich account of the human side and cultural aspects of building relationships so critical to success. The personal accounts of Soraya, Mr. Runckel's wife, adds a "non-official" richness and flavor to the story. She demonstrates the dedication and sacrifices that families of diplomats and business people make to support their spouses working overseas.

The book is an excellent source of information for anyone engaged in or interested in developing meaningful business relationships with Vietnam. It shows that to build business relationships, or any other meaningful relationship building for that matter, understanding the cultural underpinnings is crucial. Assignment Vietnam is an enjoyable read, full of interesting anecdotes, human interest stories and facts. I highly recommend it.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
Verified Purchase
by Ken Cooper - Paralegal

While all Americans have feelings about Vietnam , not many like the author of this book has gone the extra mile on behalf of both our countries. Here is a story every single American should read. We all need to understand Vietnam and understand the author Chris Runckel. He is a true American hero . This book has the "Wow" factor for sure. I could not put it down until I was done the story.

The reader will find this book has in depth look at Vietnam and a wealth of information on the different sequences our two countries have gone through.. I am convinced that the information and compelling story contained in this extremely well written book , will give the reader new insight to the USA-VIETNAM story.

I am impressed and give this book a 5 star rating. After reading this I realize that the Author Chris was one of the most influential forces in our countries efforts to bring Vietnam and the United States ,(countries that had difference's) together and find understanding.
Our world is a better place because of Chris and his efforts in Vietnam. Thank you Chris Runckel for your efforts and thank you for writing such a good read. I hope that the Vietnamese version comes out soon so all can share Chris's experience.

REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Ho Chi Minh born and raised
By Duyen

I am a Vietnamese who is now in the U.S. and married for over one year to a good, loving American guy. I am one of the many that Chris Runckel has helped over the years and I know if he hadn't helped me that I might not be here today. Mr. Runckel never talked to me or my husband much about what he did as a diplomat. I had heard he was the first U.S. Diplomat in Vietnam and I knew he had been in the Vietnam War which was long before I was born so I really didn't know much about it other than what I heard from my Uncle who was a soldier and from some older people. Reading about all Mr. Runckel's experiences I now understand why many Vietnamese have said in my presence that he knows more about Vietnam and its history and culture than most Vietnamese. I am proud that he has talked about my mother country because I am proud of being Vietnamese but I find most Americans know little about my country or its people. I believe most Americans can learn a lot about both Vietnam and Americans in Vietnam by reading Mr. Runckel's book. I hope that Mr. Runckel will agree to publish a Vietnamese language version of the book soon as I know many Vietnamese would want to know his story and to understand America better.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
by Dr. Gil Latz, Associate Vice President for International Affairs, Indiana University

Early on in Chris Runckel’s, Assignment Vietnam: Coming Full Circle as a Soldier, Diplomat and Businessman, the author recounts two motivations for writing a book about his forty five year interaction with Vietnam.  One was to respond to the many friends and acquaintances who urged him to put into prose his unique perspective on and experience in Vietnam.  A second was to give ‘credit where credit is due’ in the resumption of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the US.  I count myself among the many urging for Runckel’s recapitulation and publication.  I did so knowing that the story to be told would nicely balance the noteworthy role the author played in forging renewed relations with Vietnam, along with  his unique insights into the significant efforts by many on both sides who sought to rebuild the damaged relationship between our countries. 

Assignment Vietnam reviews a troubled period in contemporary US relations with Vietnam; the Vietnam War itself and the subsequent reconciliation efforts after its end in 1975.  Told in the first person by Mr. Runckel, a Vietnam War veteran, retired career diplomat in the US Department of State, and business consultant, the book is a diplomatic and business history that focuses particularly on the complex questions that had to be addressed in order to resume diplomatic relations.  Before and especially from the early 1990s, the author played a key leadership role on behalf of the US Government in those efforts.  His first-hand account, written in an easily accessible style, includes incidents and facts that are not widely known beyond a small circle of people who laid the foundation for the deepening diplomatic, economic and academic interactions that today characterize the relationship between the two countries.   A novel set of insights is also provided by Soraya Runckel, the author’s wife and business partner who shares her own observations of the events chronicled in a thoughtful afterward to each of the book’s main chapters.  

As a contemporary diplomatic and business history of Vietnam, the book is fascinating.  But what makes Assignment Vietnam really stand out is the way the author captures the mindset of an array of Vietnamese and Americans who worked diligently and with great effort to transcend the traumatic legacy of war in order to establish full diplomatic relations between our countries.  We talk often today about problem-solving expertise as something equated with one’s learned profession: as diplomat, professor, country specialist, for example.  But in Runckel’s telling, the complex problems between Vietnam and the US were worked through less by the so-called experts on each country, but thanks to a small cadre of men and women who can be described by their ‘frame of mind’.  Beginning with Runckel, but including many of those profiled, each displayed a set of attitudes, motivations, capacity to listen (in multiple languages), and tireless ability to build a network of personal relationships that led to a degree of trust capable of overcoming bitter disagreements.

As Runckel states when explaining why he was picked for increasingly difficult assignments in his tenure in the State Department, leading to his assignment in Vietnam, ‘…I had a reputation for being creative and a problem solver’….  Thanks to that reputation, a quality that attracted others who were like minded to join him in his work, we are the beneficiaries of a book that contributes uniquely not only to the annals of the last half century of America’s interaction with Vietnam but to the heartening realization that former enemies can transcend profound differences.   A fitting legacy is that our two countries are now bound together as 21st century diplomatic and economic partners.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
by James Rockwell

I loved the book. Powerful. A story of high stakes poker - sometimes gut-wrenching, sometimes pathetic, funny or sad. Always real. Vietnam in the 90's was the extreme wild west, fraught with the wide range of players, problems and opportunities that define every frontier. Because of the history America and Vietnam share, and the emotions tied to that, America had to get this re-entry right. She did.

Chris Runckel and his team of American entrepreneur diplomats got Vietnam right. Assignment Vietnam offers the case study in diplomatic excellence. Driven by a love of their country, a passionate interest in Vietnam, and an utterly selfless vision of duty - these guys made it happen. The two country's are richer for their effort. The State Department should issue this book to any diplomat sent overseas.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
Vietnam in the 90's
by Hue Le

Assignment Vietnam, a book with many valuable memoirs from Chris Runckel's genuine love for his diplomatic mission and the people of Vietnam. With his keen observations and well written words, the author has brought me back vividly to Vietnam during the 90's when the country just about to open to the outside world. Visited Viet Duc hospital in Hanoi in 1993, Chris wrote: "At the X-ray center there was an old X-ray machine that I believe was from Russia that made a sound like the electricity used to shock Frankenstein...". When he first stopped by the former U.S. Embassy property in Saigon, he wrote: "The facility was frankly rather "spooky" and gave off a strange vibe. I don't believe in ghosts but as I walked the echoing corridors and saw the pre-1975 signs still left in the hallways and stairways and as I looked at the rotting sand bags and rusting military C ration cans in heaps on the roof that were from the final helicopter evacuation on the final days prior to the fall of Saigon, I couldn't help thinking of the panic and emotions that must have struck everyone working there on the last days...".

The old Russian X-ray machine, the rotting sands bags, and the rusting military ration cans now are gone. But thanks to Chris Runckel, with the Assignment Vietnam, many valuable details involved the way of life and the state of mind of people and government officials of Vietnam in the 90's have been recorded. Whether you have an interest in history, politic or in doing business in Vietnam, this book is a must read.

REVIEW: (Rating: 5 stars)
by Monika Hoffman

This is an excellent book and anyone interested in becoming a diplomat or in pursuing a career with their government overseas really needs to buy and read this book. This book in an interesting, occasionally light and funny and also sometimes somberly tells the "good, bad and the ugly" about living and working overseas and what diplomats really do. The book describes in considerable detail the daily work, the joys and the not so good elements of working overseas as both a business person or a diplomat. It also talks in an informative and interesting way about U.S. policy toward Vietnam and how it has changed and is continuing to change over time. Further, unlike much writing by most Americans, I found it positive, calm and finally rather uplifting to know that America still does continue to produce Americans with stories more akin to the Greatest Generation and less like the depressing and disappointing stories of U.S. government employees today like Mr. Snowden, Anthony Weiner, etc. Mr. Runckel congratulations on a great book and thanks for your service.

REVIEW: (Rating: 4 stars)
Interesting Read
by Dan R.

Book gives powerful insight to hardships of an Embassy set up in a developing nation with which we were recently at war. The account is fascinating in both the details and difficulties involved in the process, and the mind set of the Vietnamese people and government. It would be helpful to read this book for anyone wishing to do business in Vietnam.

REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Great detailed story... Vivid images_index... Unspeakable talent of negotiating... Unstoppable
By Ekaterina Lyapustina

Great detailed story... Vivid images_index... Unspeakable talent of negotiating... Unstoppable positivity..., October 17, 2013
By Ekaterina Lyapustina
This review is from: Assignment Vietnam (Kindle Edition)
Great detailed story... Vivid images_index... Unspeakable talent of negotiating... Unstoppable positivity...
Thank you, Mr. Runckel, for this gift of history.
Kate Lyapustina, International Outreach Coordinator, Berkeley College

REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Very Interesting Read - Highly Recommended
By Thu Hoang

As a Vietnamese industrial/organizational (I/O) psychologist, educated both in Vietnam and the US, I've enjoyed reading Assignment Vietnam from Mr. Christopher Runckel for many reasons.
First of all, from the lens of an I/O psychologist, the book offers insightful portrayals of the work of Foreign Service and the challenges diplomats and their families face in working in a foreign country, no matter if it is a favorable destination like the UK and Thailand or a more difficult place like China or Vietnam. Chris Runckel effectively strips down the many glamorous myths about the work of diplomats and goes straight to their core tasks and responsibilities. It was fascinating for me to learn about what the author's and his family's experience in Vietnam in the early 90s. The author also, without intention, provides some of the most important competencies of Foreign Service officers which includes hardworking, diligence, dependability, cultural sensitivity, adaptability, leadership, genuineness, and always represent the best interests of their country. His wife's account of their journey in Vietnam, especially the challenge and rewards of expatriate spouses and children, was a plus. This is a must read for anyone who is into diplomacy and foreign affairs. Second, Assignment Vietnam also brings fond memories of Hanoi during my college years. I am amazed how well the book depicts Hanoi in the 90s and realized how much Hanoi and Vietnam have changed over the last 20 years. Finally, I appreciate his frank and truthful assessment of the Vietnam and its challenges (e.g., corruption, waste of resources, and poor infrastructure) into the new era of globalization and international competition.
I thank Chris Runckel and the many people he mentioned in the book, both American and Vietnamese, for their love of Vietnam and what they have done to bring the two countries and their people together.

REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Fantastic book, I highly recommend it!
By Ian Rocker 

For someone interested in International Business and Relations, reading Assignment Vietnam was informative, insightful and engaging. The end result of the book truly lives up to its subtitle of “coming full circle as a Soldier, Diplomat and Businessman.” Beginning from Christopher Runckel’s early years, it really demonstrates how an ordinary small-town individual can go on to lead an extraordinary life. Which for me, was quite inspiring!
The pacing and narrative thread of the book are fantastic. They go into survey for those parts least relevant to the overall thesis, and colorful detail for the parts that matter most. It allows you to see the full breadth of the enormous undertaking Christopher Runckel lead to fruition, while giving a sense of what it was like for him as all those things included in the subtitle. A wonderful read for anyone interested in American history, politics and business!

REVIEW:   (Rating: 5 stars)
Assignment Vietnam
By bewerth

Fascinating first-person narrative of a young draftee who served a tour of duty in Vietnam during the "American War", only to return years later on assignment from the Department of State as the first US diplomat posted to the country after 1975. His task then was to re-establish diplomatic and business ties with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, negotiate the return of some US owned properties, establish an embassy in Hanoi and a consulate in Saigon, (now Ho Chi Minh City), and work on the issues of trade and our missing POW/MIA. This second tour in Vietnam also included his wife, Soraya, and son, Charlie. Soraya's input in the book, as well as her support for Chris's mission, make for interesting reading. The story of Chris Runckel's ability to morph the former enemy into an increasingly strategic ally in Southeast Asia while working with a skeleton staff under adverse conditions in a then extremely poor county is well worth reading. His efforts, while largely unknown to the American public, are a testament to the many Foreign Service officers who have spent their lives serving our country, mostly unnoticed by it's citizens.

Vietnam - for a generation of Americans it is a country and a name that holds a certain fascination and a host of baggage - much of it negative and full of remorse.  It is the name of a war that the U.S. experienced from 1955-75 that energized a generation of Americans and led to nearly 60,000 American deaths plus the wounding and damage to hundreds of thousands more.  For the rest of the region, the damage was even worse.  Some 200-300,000  Cambodians,  possibly 200,000 Laotians and from nearly 800,000 to over 3 million Vietnamese died and even greater numbers were wounded, declared missing or affected by the violence.  Chris Runckel experienced the war and the aftermath and then nearly 20 years later was chosen to open U.S. diplomatic relations with Vietnam.  The story of his involvement with Vietnam is a true modern American history of the U.S. relationship with Vietnam both for good and for bad.  The difference in his story was that he always looked forward and always looked to make his experience with Vietnam positive and something both he and his country could be proud of.  Assignment Vietnam:  Coming Full Circle as a Soldier, Diplomat and Businessman tells this unique story.  A story that starts in the U.S. West and takes Runckel to Vietnam, the White House, the U.S. Department of State, to multiple U.S. Embassies and ultimately back to Vietnam time and again as Runckel helps the U.S. to build a new relationship with its former adversary.  In Vietnam, Runckel builds bridges and works with U.S. and Vietnamese diplomats, businessmen and others to build a new path for both countries.  This is a great read and a great story, one all Americans, Vietnamese and many others need to read and to appreciate.
Christopher W. Runckel