Last of the Annamese Dust Cover

The flag of the now defunct Republic of Vietnam is three horizontal red stripes on a field of yellow. When the Naval Institute Press prepared to publish Last of the Annamese, the story of the end of the Republic of Vietnam, the artistic staff designed the dust jacket to echo the republic’s flag. The upper half of the cover, against a field of yellow, shows the name of the book. The lower half is a dark red field with yellow stripes shown diagonally, seeming to disappear in the distance. Where the stripes come together, at the center left, is the small figure of a woman in an áo dài (literally “long dress”), the traditional Vietnamese feminine gown, and a nón lá (literally “leaf hat”), the conical hat worn throughout Vietnam. The woman’s back is to the viewer, and she appears to be moving away.

The woman, to my mind, represents Tuyet, the nominal heroine. She is walking toward the end of the stripes, symbolically toward the end of An Nam, as Vietnam was once called. As one character in the story observes watching South Vietnam fall to the North Vietnamese, “An Nam is no more.”

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