How One Determined Vietnamese Orphan Carved Out a Place for Himself in America

Non-Fiction - Biography
152 Pages
Reviewed on 08/11/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha for Readers' Favorite

Undeterred: How One Determined Vietnamese Orphan Carved Out a Place for Himself in America by Bruce Carlin is a biographical survival story of a boy who runs away from a precarious situation to survive and thrive. Long is stuck in Vietnam during the worst of the Vietnam War. He must decide whether to stay in his war-torn country or escape to the United States. He flees to America, but it wasn’t easy after that. Long has to fight many wars alone to be able to belong in a new country. He spends a tough childhood in various foster homes, never really finding a family who could make him one of their own. As time passes, he works at odd jobs to make a living, but an interest in reading financial magazines provides an opportunity to prosper. What does it take for Long to reach the peak of success from such painful beginnings?

From the outset, Bruce Carlin makes the atmosphere of a conflict-ridden Vietnam authentic and pulse-quickening. One wants to see Long escape this hell, but it becomes almost impossible. The overarching theme of the book is survival and how Long makes it out of one tight spot after the other. His experiences are conveyed in a straightforward and impactful manner, making one’s heart go out to him. The foster system in America, which can be a painful journey for many, is explored in detail. Every time one thinks Long has found a home, it turns out that he hasn’t. The story does require resilience on the part of the reader, but respite is provided when Long's life starts improving. The movement from difficulty to success is gradual but exciting. The story demonstrates that it is possible for anyone, anywhere, to be able to turn their life around through perseverance and unshakeable faith. Readers who enjoy biographies, survival, or success stories, especially with a political background, will enjoy Undeterred.

Joe Wisinski

Undeterred: How One Determined Vietnamese Orphan Carved Out a Place for Himself in America by Bruce Carlin is the story of a Vietnamese immigrant who came to the United States as a young boy. This true account begins with 5-year-old Long, along with his older brother, Duc, escaping from Viet Nam near the end of the war. They were taken to Camp Pendleton in California. The boys then lived in a series of foster homes, mostly being treated poorly by their foster parents and families. Even when his family circumstances improved, Long was bullied in school because of his heritage. He dreamed of becoming rich and worked day and night in a series of positions, both as an employee and an entrepreneur. Long exceeded his financial goals, becoming a wealthy man. The book concludes with Long’s investment advice.

Undeterred is an excellent title for this book. Anyone who reads it is sure to be inspired by how a young boy arrived in the United States penniless and with only his older brother to accompany him. Bruce Carlin is a fine writer who tells Long’s story with compassion and enthusiasm. Readers will be educated about what life was like for Vietnamese immigrants and inspired to better their own lives. The book is also worth reading to learn about Long’s investment principles, which he developed over many years and which he credits with helping him become a financial success. I highly recommend this exceptional book.

Pikasho Deka

Undeterred is the tale of a Vietnamese orphan who became the classic American success story due to a combination of hard work, courage, and undeniable will. Written by Bruce Carlin, this book is the true rags-to-riches tale of Long, a Vietnamese orphan who fled Saigon with his older brother Duc as a kid in 1975 when Communists took over the city, leaving people like him at the mercy of the American soldiers. After arriving in America, Long and Duc went through a string of foster homes, struggling to assimilate into any of those families. At long last, the brothers arrive in California, where misfortune strikes and Duc is declared brain dead after an unfortunate accident. Now alone and facing despair, Long digs deep and commits himself to survive, accumulating $57,000 by graduation at the age of 21, after which he delves into investments.

Undeterred is the prime example of following one's heart with sheer willpower and determination to achieve the dreams of a lifetime, something many successful immigrants have done in America -- the land of opportunities. Author Bruce Carlin tells the unfiltered life story of his friend and colleague, Long, a Vietnamese orphan who carved out his own place in America and found his destiny. Carlin's narrative draws a moving portrait of children who find themselves at the mercy of foster homes in the US, showcasing how difficult it is for most of them to break through the system and make a life for themselves. An inspiring tale to invigorate readers and one that I highly recommend.