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Vietnam was once known as a paradise for big game, and Etienne Oggeri, the last living PH from Vietnam, grew up and hunted in what was known as French Indochina. As we all know, the Vietnam was destroyed by civil war, and only recently has it opened to hunting once more, and that on a limited basis. Thus, to have someone with Oggeri’s background write his memoirs of big-game hunting in French Indochina is something not to be missed.
Oggeri is descended from French settlers who immigrated to Indochina to build railroads . . . and to hunt. Oggeri made his living either guiding sport hunters or poaching Asian elephants for ivory. Neither was easy, but he excelled at this extremely challenging occupation. During the course of his career, he also learned how to avoid the guerrillas who infiltrated the country and made hunting in the jungles of Vietnam a very dangerous profession, indeed. Never one to give up easily, he was undisturbed by it all. He guided Berry Brooks, a famous hunter and Weatherby Award winner, to several very good trophies, including gaur and tiger. This was but one of the highlights of his career. Others include poaching elephants and convincing the authorities he had done no wrong. Oggeri was a master of getting out of very tight spots—usually of his own doing.
These very well-written vignettes give us a view into a hunting world that was once equally as vibrant as Africa. Ultimately, Oggeri was forced to leave his beloved Vietnam, not because the Vietcong, and not because of his poaching, but because of the torrid love affair he had with Lechi, the sister of Madame Nhu, the first lady of Vietnam. This iron lady ruled over a corrupt government and arbitrarily ordered his expulsion in 1962.
Tigers and gaur are no longer hunted in Southeast Asia, and Vietnam is now on the road to becoming a commercial society, so it is only here in these pages that you can read the story of what hunting was like in the glory days of Vietnam. Etienne Oggeri was not only the foremost outfitter/guide in that country, but he is also a great writer who knows how to tell an interesting and riveting story. Those hunters who served in the U.S. military in Vietnam will find this book a particularly emotive experience.