The Reviews


The end of the Vietnam War, 1975. The Americans were leaving the country, and many of the native Vietnamese as well wanted to escape the country. Home Away From Home is the story of one of these immigrants and his family as he made the long last minute escape from the communist Vietnam for the democratic America.

This is the tale of his long journey from there, to the refugee camps and finally to the small town of Coffeyville, Kansas.  “Home Away From Home” is both a story of appreciation and culture shock . . . a deftly written account of an oft-forgotten set of immigrants . . . Highly recommended.

—- John Burroughs of The Midwest Book Review


This is a first-hand account of a family who evacuated Vietnam just before Saigon fell in 1975. This book chronicles their escape via a military cargo plane, a stay for 2 months in Camp Pendleton in California until a sponsor was found. Coffeyville, a small town in the middle of Kansas became their new home.

This is an intriguing, at times sad and sometimes humorous story of how a Vietnamese family initially struggled to adjust to their new life in America. It is clearly evident that author Nghiep Dao has a vivid memory for details and conversations and a penchant for remembering humorous situations.

This is a story you cannot help but get caught up in.

—– David Thompson of


This is a fabulous book! My wife, who is Vietnamese, and I thought this book was fabulous. This title accurately reflects her feelings, her home is now a home away from home! It brought back so many memories of our experiences in Vietnam and the stories told by my wife’s family.

The author excellently described his sad, difficult, and happy experiences. Reading the book was like an exciting novel and, once started, it was hard to put the book down until completely finishing it. I recommend anyone reading it.

—– Frank Spielman, fellow Kansan and Vietnam Vet


At eight years of age Nick fled Vietnam with his family just as Saigon was falling. The book is a first person account of growing up in America in an immigrant family. There was lots of stress: family stress that come from lack of job security, low paying jobs, drowning in a sea of English words, personal identity issues that many immigrant children have and, of course, prejudice.

I recommend the Home Away From Home as a must read for anyone who is working with immigrants helping them become settled in our country. It should be in school and community libraries – maybe some day it will be.

—– Bob Erickson, A Heckuva Nice Guy


Home Away From Home is not just another Viet Nam War memoir. Author Nghiep Dao, has written a thoughtful, brave and intimate story of his childhood escape just before the Communist take-over of Saigon and his life growing up with his troubled family in the unlikely farming town of Coffeyville Kansas. It is the proud story of courage, perseverance, hope and success in the face of discrimination and culture shock.

The story begins one bright morning on April 23, 1978 when eight year old Nghiep woke up to a house full of nervous relatives pacing back and forth and was told to quickly empty out his school satchel and fill it up with as much clothing as he could. When he asked why, he was told by his father, who worked for a branch of the U.S. Embassy known as the Defense Attaché Office, that he wouldn’t be going to school that day but would instead be going to “Nuoc My,” a place he would later learn was America. The family was stealthily ferried to the airport and the waiting cargo plane, avoiding notice from their neighbors, any of whom might have been a Communist informer.

Details of his parents’ lives during the “American War” as it is known in Viet Nam, came to light over the years and after many return visits to his homeland, Nick, as he now calls himself, perceptively ferrets out the heart-felt meaning of his own life here in his Home Away From Home.  Highly recommended for young and old alike.

—– E. Goetz, an avid Traveler


Being an American immigrant myself I feel that this is a great book for anyone starting a life in The United States, regardless of where they came from.  I wish someone had suggested a book like this to me when I first came to my new country!

This book has detailed accounts of real life, and it should be required reading in all schools, especially at the elementary level when children are taking everything in and are so aware of their surroundings.  Of course, it’s been a while since I went back to school in order to keep up with my children’s school assignments, and maybe books on immigrant lives are a part of school curriculum now.

—— Gina P., immigrant from Brazil


Forty years ago, I returned from tours in Vietnam. We had lost the Vietnam war that cost the lives of fifty-eight thousand American young men and wounded hundreds of thousands more. The U.S. had abandoned thousands of our allies: the Hmong, Montangards, and South Vietnamese personnel employed by the various U.S. agencies. The American public was at best ambivalent, and at worst, hateful of returning soldiers.

Mr. Dao’s account of his family’s escape from Vietnam and subsequent resettlement in the U.S. brought back many memories: the good, the bad, and the ugly. His description of “bahn mi” sandwiches and his Grandmother’s fried rice made my mouth water.

The utter chaos of the last week in April of 1975 during the final agonizing evacuation is easily read in his words. The humor he brings to assimilating to the American culture is priceless. I would recommend any Vietnam-era Vet who was associated with the war pick up this book. Hopefully, in some small way, it will help heal some of the anger left behind by that period.

 Robert Phillips, Vietnam Veteran


The author turned a really interesting story into a mess with his inability to stay focused on the points of his story. He rambles and wanders and eventually gets back to the point. An outline might help him find direction. His overuse of boring cliches and a challenging high level vocabulary only served to add to my feeling that he’s being crushed by a massive chip on his shoulder. He should decide if he’s telling a factual tale of his immigration or if he wants to express his personal opinions about views on immigration and necessary changes to our country’s bill of rights.

Cari S.  (Oh, well . . . you can’t win them all.)


This would not be something I would typically read as I an more into thrillers and horror, however I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very well written and you grew up in the same era as I did so it was easy to appreciate. Its good to learn about an other culture from someone that had to start in a war torn country so that people don’t stereotype and judge because of what we have heard from gossip and bias.  Thanks for sharing your story Nick!

---- Leigh from Idaho


Nick has told us a story of survival in his native land and in his new land. He has basically told us all a story of our own ancestors. We might not have come to the U.S.A. because of war but our families came here to escape something. We are all here together and it was so good to read Nick’s story to realize just how tough it can be to start things anew amongst strangers. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about the struggles involved in starting your lives over from square one. Great job Nick, Thank you

—-  Gary from Illinois


This is more than the story of a boy fleeing Saigon with his family and settling in America, although it is that too. It is as much about how people are people more than they are one culture or another.  I especially liked how Mr. Dao lets us know what he was thinking at the time (and sometimes what he understood later) as he describes what happens. 

---- Jrzin from ???  


An awesome look into the life of a Vietnam refugee before and after settlement in the United States. His writing is vivid. The descriptions of his childhood home were so vivid, that at some point I felt like an intruder in his world. This story reads like a diary, you will feel as though you’ve actually traveled on his family’s journey with them. A slice of life story. Great read, I had a hard time putting it down.

----- Tatum 
The book was extremely eye opening which helped me understand the struggles of Vietnamese refugees during the Vietnam War. I found myself smiling as the author recounted his naiveté at a young age and my heart sinking as he recounted the tragic fates of relatives that tried to escape overseas. I commend the author on a well written book that constantly kept me captivated. Coming away from the book, I left with a renewed appreciation for America and its opportunities as well as an admiration for Vietnamese refugee families. 
---- Benjamin 
I r-e-a-l-l-y liked this book -- so much so that I bought 10 copies for the local library to add to their Book Club collections! Yep, I put my money where my mouth is. It's a great story -- a fascinating part of history told from an interesting vantage point -- and an easy read because it's so engaging. Buy it, I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride.
----- Kate from Kansas