Getting Out of Saigon: How a 27-Year-Old Banker Saved 113 Vietnamese Civilians (Hardcover)
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The gripping and remarkable true story of author Ralph White’s desperate effort to save the entire staff of the Saigon branch of Chase Manhattan bank and their families before the city fell to the North Vietnamese Army.
In April 1975, Ralph White was asked by his boss to transfer from the Bangkok branch of the Chase Manhattan Bank to the Saigon Branch. He was tasked with closing the branch if and when it appeared that Saigon would fall to the North Vietnamese army and ensure the safety of the senior Vietnamese employees.
But when he arrived, he realized the situation in Saigon was far more perilous than he had imagined. The senior staff members there urged him to evacuate the entire staff of the branch and their families, which was far more than he was authorized to do. Quickly he realized that no one would be safe when the city fell, and it was no longer a question of whether to evacuate but how.
Getting Out of Saigon is the remarkable story of a city on the eve of destruction and the colorful characters who respond differently to impending doom. It’s about one man’s quest to save innocent lives not because it was ordered but because it was the right thing to do.
About the Author
In 1973, Ralph White joined the Chase Manhattan Bank and worked as a business development officer in Thailand and Hong Kong; during his tenure in Thailand, he was temporarily assigned to Vietnam to close the bank’s Saigon branch as the city fell. Upon return to Chase’s New York headquarters in 1981, he worked in the International Strategic Planning Division and was a Vice President when he left. White subsequently worked as a business development officer with three foreign banks and earned an MBA at Columbia University. In 2009, he founded the Columbia Fiction Foundry, a writing workshop for alumni of Columbia University. Having served as the organization’s president for its first decade, White now serves as its Chairman. He lives in New York City and Litchfield, Connecticut.
"Captivating....It’s hard not to admire [White] for his pluckiness in the face of bureaucratic indifference as well as his growth from a risk-taking adventurer into a humanitarian with genuine compassion for the Vietnamese whose lives depended on him."
— Mark Atwood Lawrence
“As the subtitle of Mr. White’s recently published book promises, he succeeded. What it doesn’t give away are the overwhelming barriers he faced and the smart, often heart-stopping ways he overcame them. . . . His story is one of courage, resolve, and determination born from challenge.”
— Erin Douglass
"An edge-of-your-seat, too-insane-not-to-be-true story."
“A must-read for those of us who were there, for those of us who watched the fall of Saigon on the six o’clock news, for all those who lived through that dark period of American history, and for a younger generation who have seen the documentaries and read the books. Ralph White’s Getting Out of Saigon opens old wounds, but also heals. An amazing tour de force and a stunning human drama set against the cataclysm of a lost war.”
— Nelson DeMille, bestselling novelist and former U.S. Army first lieutenant in the First Cavalry Division, Vietnam 1967-1968
"A unique, gripping story from the Vietnam War....White's persona seems like something out of a Terry Southern or Ian Fleming novel—as does his writing. White tells his inspiring story with wit, panache, humility, and a captivating sense of time and place. A fantastic read."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"By turns harrowing, enchanting, and leavened with a humor as dark as Saigon's quayside alleys, Ralph White's Getting Out of Saigon belongs on your bookshelf between Graham Greene and Neil Sheehan. Like Greene, White is a mesmerizing tour guide whose tale of rescuing over 100 Vietnamese civilians from the besieged capital city is as poignant as it is eerily prescient.”
— Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, coauthors of Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam
"[An] enthralling story."
— Library Journal (starred review)
“In the history of the Chase Manhattan Bank, one event stands out as clarifying the bank’s responsibility to its employees. In 1975, Chase sent Ralph White to rescue its Vietnamese employees before the fall of Saigon. Only in retrospect do we now know how desperate those employees were, or how extraordinary were the obstacles White faced in rescuing them.”
— Anthony Terracciano, former vice chairman of the Chase Manhattan Corporation
“Ralph White has written a thrilling account of how he defied the American Ambassador and succeeded in evacuating more than a hundred South Vietnamese employees of the Chase Manhattan Bank in Saigon less than a week before the fall of Saigon. He has succeeded in transforming his own Profile in Courage moment into an inspiring and timeless story that is particularly relevant today, when many in government, politics, and business have been called on to decide whether or not to take great risks and follow the dictates of their consciences.”
— Thurston Clarke, author of Honorable Exit: How a Few Brave Americans Risked All to Save Our Vietnamese Allies at the End of the War