American Dreamer

How I Escaped Communist Vietnam and Built a Successful Life in America

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
390 Pages
Reviewed on 12/26/2020
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Author Biography


In 1970, Tim (Khiem) and Cathy (Thuy) Tran were top international students from South Vietnam who were awarded scholarships to study in the United States. They studied for two years at Pacific University in Oregon, after which Tim pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and Cathy finished her degree at the University of Oregon. Per the conditions of their scholarships, the two returned to South Vietnam in 1974. When Saigon was overrun by communist forces in 1975, the family endured great hardships. In 1979, Tim and Cathy managed to escape via boat. After a harrowing, life-threatening voyage they were placed in a refugee camp in Malaysia.

Eventually the Trans were able to immigrate to the United States and became naturalized citizens in 1986. Tim went on to become the Chief Financial Officer of Johnstone Supply, and Cathy worked for U.S. Bank, then Standard Insurance, and became an accounting manager. In 2017, the Trans established a Library Endowment Fund at Pacific University. In honor of their gift, the library building on the Pacific University Forest Grove campus was dedicated as the Tim and Cathy Tran Library.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite

American Dreamer: How I Escaped Communist Vietnam and Built a Successful Life in America by Tim Tran with Tom Fields-Meyer is the fascinating story of the author who was once a penniless refugee and a man without a country. It is also the story of an underprivileged kid who went through a lot of adversity and finally survived to escape from his country to the United States and live the American dream. His story is one of hard work, sheer perseverance, and good luck. This book chronicles his journey of trying to escape Communist Vietnam and his multiple attempts. He speaks of facing betrayal and deceit while trying to flee and how finally he and his wife Cathy managed to leave in a boat that was overcrowded with 350 other passengers, faced pirate attacks, and were in a Malaysian refugee camp before they reached Oregon. Tim Tran's success after reaching America gives hope to many readers who want to move to America and work for a better future and life.

Tim Tran's story is uplifting and inspiring, and American Dreamer is honest and straightforward, giving readers all the details about his struggles when it came to escaping from his home country and finding freedom. There is sadness, motivation, inspiration, struggles, compassion, and hope in this memoir, and it will keep readers hooked to the very end to discover how Tim Tran and his wife Cathy survived their ordeal, reached America, and made it their home. The depth of his struggles, while he lived in Vietnam, has been expressed in detail and is palpable to readers.