What's New

[ARCHIVED photos alternating above: 1. Jim Laurie at Washington Newsdesk with China TV America Managing Editor Mei Yan,  April 2012  2. The China TV America Team Washington DC February 2012.    3. Cambodia: scattering Sinan's remains along the Mekong River January 31, 2011   4. The University of Hong Kong ABC News student TV production team, 2010.

UPDATE MAY 2, 2023
Back in Vietnam again.  Staying at the lovely Hotel des Arts in downtown Saigon.  Every visit to Vietnam is a delight especially when sampling the great variety of food at old favorite restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City. 
Good to arrive in Japan today.  Have not spent time here since the late 1990's.  Plan to travel around Japan from place to place out of Osaka on the Ponant ship Le Soleal.  Will delivering on board my Japan history talks:  Hiroshima: did the bomb really end the war?  and Japan as Number One - 1970 to 2000  What happened?  
Starting the year off in the Orlando and then St Peterburg Florida area.  Land where I was born far too many years ago.  Will hang ou here until my next global travels.  
Indochina travels for this year sadly at end with a few extra days in the Angkor Temples area of Cambodia.  Siem Reap and surrounding area continues to grow with unbridled development - even since my last visit in 2019.   Still it is always a pleasure to return. 
A first visit in Vietnam to Dien Bien Phu.  Scene of the defeat of the French by the north Vietnamese "Viet Minh" forces under commander Vo Nguyen Giap in May 1954,   Well worth a visit for anyone captivated as I am by Indochina history.
After the long COVID period of inactivity (2020-2022), I am preparing to leave for Asia.  First Asia travels since 2019.   First to Hong Kong, then to Hanoi and Haiphong Vietnam.  Keep an eye on my Twitter https://twitter.com/JimLaurie_Asia  and Facebook  (20+) Jim Laurie | Facebook   pages for updates/     You can also find updates here and on Linked In.  STAY TUNED!
Have just completed an excellent speaking tour in Berlin.  My first visit to Germany since 2016.  Before the China-German Media institute I spoke of my long years of experience about China.
here are a few articles (one in German) about my visit. 
As the year comes to an end, we'd like to thank the many people who purchased through AMAZON.COM - "The Last Helicopter: Two Lives in Indochina."     At a difficult time, soon going into our third year impacted by the global pandemic brought about by COVID-19, it is gratifying to find so many finding value in our memoir and that of a special friend; a story that began more than 50 years ago in Vietnam and Cambodia.
UPDATE MAY 6, 2021
Out today for people who would rather listen to a 350 page book than read it.
Available through Audible, AMAZON.com, and iTUNES now.
UPDATE MAY 1, 2021
COVID Lockdown may have ended and we are fully vaccinated but global travel still on hold.  Waiting for updates by year's end. 
UPDATE March 15, 2021
One year of "Covid lockdown" in Maine USA ended.  With vaccinations in place, back to work and travel soon.    Our Book: "The Last Helicopter: Two Lives in Indochina" continues to win praise.   Book out for SIX MONTHS NOW.
 ...hard to place The Last Helicopter in a category. It is a thrilling eye-witness report of the last chaotic days of Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975; it is a poignant love story of a young American reporter and an exceptional Khmer woman; and it is a rumination on America and the Third Indochina War. Veteran radio and television reporter Jim Laurie knows how to tell a story (disclosure: he is a former colleague of mine in Vietnam), but his account includes a touching story by an unusual posthumous co-author.ory. It is a thrilling eye-witness report of the last chaotic days of Phnom Penh and Saigon in 1975; it is a poignant love story of a young American reporter and an exceptional Khmer woman; and it is a rumination on America and the Third Indochina War. Veteran radio and television reporter Jim Laurie knows how to tell a story (disclosure: he is a former colleague of mine in Vietnam), but his account includes a touching story by an unusual posthumous co-author.
UPDATE December 11, 2020
Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize has published the following REVIEW of THE LAST HELICOPTER: Two Lives in Indochina.
BookLife Prize - 2020
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10

Idea: The story of Sinan's survival and her ultimate escape from the Khmer Rouge is gripping; it is impossible not to fear for her when the situation is at its gravest, and impossible not to admire her tenacity, her presence of mind, and her resourcefulness.

Prose: Well-paced, riveting, and grounded, The Last Helicopter is clearly the work of a seasoned professional journalist (that's a compliment.) The author does not spare himself for his youthful mistakes and betrayals; his honesty is refreshing. But the story is Sinan's, and the book is at its most vivid and engaging when she tells it in her own words.

Originality: The story has elements that are unlike many other memoirs of the Vietnam era. The fact that the protagonist is a Cambodian woman particularly allows the work to stand out, as does the work's emotional candor.

Character/Execution: While the reader may not admire the narrator, Jim, every step of the way, he does full justice to the courage and strength of character of Sinan, the Cambodian woman he loves, betrays, and leaves behind as the Khmer Rouge takes her city. The narrative sections written by Sinan herself are stunning in their simplicity and power.

Date Submitted: December 05, 2020

UPDATE September 26, 2020
Now working on self-narrated AUDIO BOOK of THE LAST HELICOPTER.  (reading 90,000 words is hard work!)
UPDATE September 1, 2020
Kindle version of THE LAST HELICOPTER: Two Lives in Indochina now out at Amazon.com 
UPDATE August 22, 2020
It has been a long time coming.  But we are out with a new book - published today first in paperback.  A highly personal memoir of our earliest days in Cambodia and Vietnam.  Exorcising old demons, I look back at my life as a 22 year old reporter in Indochina and a very special woman I met in June 1970.  For more see http://www.jimlaurie.com/book and order a copy here:  Order book from Amazon
UPDATE August 1, 2020
Continuing work on "The Last Helicopter: Two Lives in Indochina"   Title confirmed on this very personal memoir of early Love, War and survival in the 1970's.  See more at  https://bit.ly/33ijzvK    Publishing date coming soon   Watch this space  
UPDATE June 22, 2020
Continue modified COVID-19 islolation in Maine (four months now).  Have been grounded from international travel since the first of the year.  Continuing work on new book.  New tentative title:   "THE LAST HELICOPTER: Two lives in Indochina"
UPDATE May 25, 2020
Continuing work on book on Indochina Cambodia and Vietnam 1970-1980  Estimated publication date August 2020.
Currently - barred from travel by COVID-19 - in Norway Maine USA
UPDATE MARCH 12, 2020 
The CORONAGVIRUS crisis begins to impact the United States. All of my consulting contracts are cancelled and speaking engagements postponed due to "shelter-in-place" health guidelines.   We take up residence at farm in Norway Maine for the duration. 
UPDATE February 1, 2020
Deep in second revision of book transcript:  Coming Soon   War, Love and Betrayal -  a memoir of Cambodia and Vietnam  (working title)
UPDATE January 1, 2020
No global travel for awhile.  Heading to Florida to escape the cold and to contunue some memoir writing. 
UPDATE December 26, 2019
On the road since October.  In Hong Kong October 26 to 29.  October 29 to November 16 Vietnam.  November 16 to November 21 Cambodia.  November 22 - November 24 Vietnam   November 24-25 Hong Kong   November 26 to December 4  Boston-Maine
December 5 Washington DC...
UPDATE October 12, 2019
In Beijing until October 25th -  friends/colleagues can reach me on "WeChat" at jimlaurie2015  or on Yahoo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    
UPDATE September 29, 2019
In Beijing where the leadership is readying the city for their big 70th Anniversary celebrations - marking 70 years since Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China from atop the Tian An Men gate.   Read about my meanderings around Beijing and my reflections on Chinese history and language here 
UPDATE August 29, 2019
Depart Boston for China for new consultancy with China Global Television in Beijing 
UPDATE May 27, 2019
Back in United States from UK, and consulting work in London.   Begins final work in Maine on Vietnam-Cambodia book project. 
UPDATE January 12, 2019
Looking back at Cambodia - 40 years ago and the legacy of a widened war initiated in 1970.   Jim Laurie invited to ABC News London to comment.   See: https://abcnews.go.com/International/video/cambodian-refugees-deported-back-nation-40-years-khmer-60321599
 UPDATE January 2, 2019
In London to assist in development of the new China Global TV and digital production centre in Chiswick Park.   Project continued from 2018, expected to be completed by May 2019.
UPDATE November 5, 2018
In Beijing until December 3rd.  Continuing work on the building of a Chinese owned TV production centre at Chiswick Park, London.
Expected to go to London in December.
UPDATE August 6, 2018
Return to Beijing under a new Focus Asia Consulting Contract
Expect to be in Beijing until September 17th 
UPDATE July 1, 2018

Start of one month down time at summer home in Norway Maine


UPDATE June 23 2018   

Reception at the Langham Hotel London to introduce China Global Television Network to interested media people in the U.K. 


UPDATE June 21 2018  
   Arrive London where my client China Global Television is setting up a production centre at Chiswick Park.  We visited     the site and began a series of interviews - looking for top anchors and producers to head the London operation.  Interviews completed on June 27th 

UPDATE June 16 2018

   Short visit to Hong Kong.  Preparing to go to London with a short stop in the United States 


UPDATE June 3, 2018

   Counting down to departure from Beijing after a long stint of consulting projects.   


UPDATE January 7, 2018

   Arrived in Beijing for an extended visit.


UPDATE January 5, 2018

Censorship of the internet and of television in Asia is a fact or life.  A bemused look at the restrictions of Malaysia, Vietnam and China.  Written for the HUFFPOST     




Saigon.  A unique look at changing Vietnamese society - a personal look at the Vo Family and growing old.  We first wrote about the Vo Family of Qui Ngon Vietnam for the Asia Wall Street Journal in 2005.




Saigon.  Some old and new images of central Saigon Vietnam for the photo file.   take a look




Phnom Penh.  Read my piece from Cambodia on its contradictions yesterday and today and a unique take on its leader Hun Sen.




Saigon.  Some random thoughts about travel in Vietnam including "Cruising, Hanoi, Da Nang, Trump, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh"



From today until November 12th, we are working and travelling in Vietnam


Blog Dateline Hanoi.  A look back "My Vietnam Awakening"  HUFFPOST



New York Times Oral History - looks back 50 years at Washington DC March on the Pentagon.  Includes remarks by Jim Laurie who was there as a student reporter.


UPDATE October 19, 2017

From today through October 28, we are lecturing on the ship L'Austral. Passing first through China's Hainan Strait to Haiphong Vietnam on October 21. On to Tuan An, Hue, Da Nang, Saigon. Group organized by American Universities Alumni Associations and the Smithsonian Institution.

UPDATE  October 1, 2017

A new Ken Burns Documentary is on Public TV in America and available through Digital platforms. BURNS - NOVICK                      "The Vietnam War"   read Jim Laurie Review here  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ken-burns-vietnam-war-limits-of-18-hours_us_596e5f26e4b0376db8b65ba2

 Update January 7, 2017

A new year and new projects.  

For the last several months we have been pre-occupied with the development of a new Documentary Film strand for China Global Television.

I was pleased to choose the first two films for the series which has been named BIG STORY.

The first two films in the series are television exclusives and will be given several runs between now and June 15th.

Once the doc unit is properly staffed, I will end my stint as a show runner and put back on my hat as a media consultants!






Around the globe, nearly 45 million people are affected by Alzheimer's Disease or related senile dementia.

Among China's increasingly ageing population, there are more than nine million Alzheimer's patients; the largest number in any country.

The new China Global Television Network strand - Big Story this week presents a remarkable film from Shanghai.

"Please Remember Me" is a powerful love story of a man struggling to care for his ailing wife of 43 years.

Shu Feng agonizes over how to help Lou as she slowly loses the memories of a life time.

"A solution, there is no solution," says Feng as he struggles to decide whether to institutionalize Lou.

Lou was a school administrator before her retirement. Now at 85, medical examiners report she has a mental age of four.

Her step son notes "she has no memory left. She doesn't even recognize me."

The film is directed by Shanghai Director Zhao Qing, Produced by Du Feng. This is its television debut.


Update January 1, 2017

CCTV and CCTV America have rebranded.   Given new names as part of a 2017 reorganization of Chinese television efforts for non Chinese audiences.  New names  CGTN, China Global Television Network  and CGTN America 

 Update November 6, 2016

Tomorrow addressing a Washington DC meeting of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy on Chinese media and coverage of the American elections.  Full house turnout.

Update November 1-5, 2016

Time out from Asian Affairs to spend time in Florida, the state of my birth.  Actually volunteered in the Clinton get-out-the-early vote campaign... a new and satisfying experience.  

Update October 29, 2016

Thanks to the Overseas Press Club for their October profile   https://opcofamerica.org/meet-the-opc-members-qa-with-jim-laurie/

Update October 21, 2016

Back to Washington DC from Houston Texas where we spoke on China developments to the continuing educational program of the Women's Institute of Houston at the River Oaks Country Club.  Lots of interesting questions from an enthusiastic audience of 200.

Update September 5, 2016

Back in the US after 10 days in Hong Kong.   Good to be back at the University of Hong Kong, to see old friends, and observe the current politics of the city - as it grappled with LEGCO elections, political pressure from Beijing, and rising 'local' voices among the city's High School/ University Students and youth. 

Update August 18, 2016

Preparing to head to Hong Kong next week.  An excellent event is planned August 31st to mark the accomplishments of the Journalism and Media Studies Center at the University of Hong Kong.   Its director and founder Professor Ying Chan is stepping down.   Being replaced by our old friend Keith Richburg, former international editor of the Washington Post. 

Update May 22, 2016

Read our latest blog item on the Huffington Post.  Advance observations on Vietnam.  China-Vietnam relations over the years and President Obama visits Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City:  HUFFPOST

Update February 23, 2016

Read our latest item on the Huffington Post - reflections on Taiwan and the evolution of Democracy over 40 years


 Update February 12, 2016

Read our latest item on the Huffington Post - the remarkable story of Kim Nguyen in and out of Vietnam.

HUFFPOST - Vietnam 'Miss Saigon" and Amerasians 30 years on

 Update January 9, 2016

Back in US from China. Great travels October-December in Hong Kong, Beijing, Guangzhou, and Guiyang.   Now  based Washington D.C.  New Year's Resolution =  Keep writing HUFFINGTON POST BLOG:

HUFFPOST - Travels to Guizhou

HUFFPOST -Looking back at Chinese leader HU Yaobang

HUFFPOST - Reflections on religion in China

HUFFPOST - My Job Fair visit in Beijing


Update October 20, 2015

Off from Washington to Hong Kong on October 16th then to Beijing October October 18th.

Look for updates of Twitter and Facebook from China until December 5th.

Read the latest HUFFPOST item on China:   China, the Pope, Religion, Tibet =

Huffington Post

Update August 29, 2015

READ us in the HUFFINGTON POST = HUFFPOST on the Philippines

Update August 15, 2015


Update August 9,  2015

Follow us on twitter =  https://twitter.com/FocusAsia

Update August 9, 2015

Tonight CCTV America releases a new documentary film on Cuba:  "Reinventing Cuba"   Watch on TV or online  Live Stream 7pm Sunday

My insiders review:


A couple of admissions. First I was wrong. After my first visit to Cuba in April 1989, I made a prediction.

On April 2nd, I watched Mikhail Gorbachev and Fidel Castro embrace. I reported the end of cheap Russian oil and massive Soviet economic support for Cuba was near. The American trade embargo was biting.  I thought Fidel’s Cuba would have to change. Crippled by a Russian cutoff, Castro would move quickly to reform. Rapprochement with the United States might follow.  

It didn’t work out that way. Rejecting Gorbachev’s fledgling economic reforms, Fidel stubbornly proclaimed “Perestroika is another man’s wife. I don’t want to get involved.”

I had no doubt been too much influenced by China where from 1978 to 1988, I had covered Deng Xiaoping’s startling economic reforms.

Spin ahead 26 years. Change or at the very least the hope of real change is finally coming to Cuba.

On August 14th, John Kerry becomes the first American Secretary of State in 60 years to visit Havana.   Normalized relations are finally proceeding step by step. And the Russians: Vladimir Putin forgave at least 90 percent of Cuba’s $35 billion Soviet era debt when he visited Cuba last summer.

The Cuban people are embracing change - as former NPR Latin America correspondent Gerry Hadden reveals in a remarkable new documentary film: “Reinventing Cuba.”

[My second admission: I worked as advisor on the film and serve as consultant to its producers.]

The film is produced by the American arm of China Central Television based in Washington.  The Chinese connection helped Hadden gain access sometimes denied by the Cuban government to American film teams.

It was not an easy film to produce. Having shot films in Cambodia, Vietnam, China, and North Korea, I know from long experience, they never are.  In this case the film is ably executed by the loving cinematography of Cuban born producer/cameraman Armando Guerra.

What emerges from Hadden’s “Reinventing Cuba” is a story of an extraordinarily inventive, independent, creative and vibrant people who have learned to overcome any obstacle. 

No matter whether those obstacles have been imposed by the Americans and their now 53 year old embargo or by the policies of the Cuban government itself, Cubans have not only survived but thrived.

Hadden examines a Cuba as he puts it “beyond cigars and salsa, mojitos and Malecón” and discovers some remarkable characters.   There is 8 year old Jan Carl and his dream of baseball growing from the ‘Lions’ of central Havana to the big leagues.   There is Robin, a hip, ambitious entrepreneur who has started a digital magazine, perhaps a Cuban ‘Rolling Stone,’ in a country where internet access is a challenge at best. And Idania, one of several beautiful and creative designers and artists, Hadden portrays.   Wonderfully talented, Idania creates commercial design work out of hand-me-downs.  She struggles however with simple things – obtaining a permit for a store sign or finding wall screws to hang up her art on an island where so much is scarce.

What is most striking is how out of such adversity have come real accomplishments; none more so than in the fields of biotechnology and medicine.

What becomes clear is that better US-Cuba relations will of course be good for Cubans, but good also for Americans in ways not widely known. We learn from Yuri Valdez of Cuba’s Finlay Center for Vaccines Research that Cubans are pioneers in vaccinations, most notably for Meningitis B.     Meningitis causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. It can mean death particularly among children. Cuba has had a vaccine for the B strain of the disease since the 1990’s; a vaccine not available in the United States and banned for sale here by the trade embargo.   Cuban research and treatment has advanced across a wide array of medicine: leukemia, diabetes, bone marrow transplants and even a rare degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa.    

Dr Valdez, noting Cuba remains a very poor country, says “only by exporting our medical products can we get enough money to support research and a high healthcare standard.”  

The medical work is clearly not only good for Cuba but for the world.

This is a film about the aesthetics of scarcity.    

We cannot help but watch with admiration as Cubans, many of whom are part of an emerging, entrepreneurial and professional middle class, work their way forward, escaping want and scarcity, reinventing themselves, and building a new Cuba.


Update May 30, 2015

40 years ago the Far Eastern Economic Review (once one of Asia's great weekly journals) published some of my reporting from Vietnam in May 1975.   Here are a few from the archivehttp://goo.gl/8t8V8a

Update May 10, 2015

Be sure and see the new reflections article on - Vietnam 40 years on - in the Vietnam archives section of this website.  There were very few American journalists in Vietnam on May 10 1975.    Read more ...  http://goo.gl/vS0jXO

Update April 24, 2015

"Last Days in Vietnam: An incomplete PBS "American Experience"

Background: Broadcast on PBS April 28, 2015 and available on DVD and on line through various vendors, the documentary "Last Days in Vietnam," is enjoying both wide distribution and wide acclaim (Academy Award nominee) as a film portraying the final days of what Americans call the Vietnam War. The film, directed by Rory Kennedy, includes a highly debatable historical section which distorts the period 1973-1975. As a participant in the film, I wrote the following corrective:

See also http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/blog/2015/04/29/vietnam-40-years/

40 years after the end of what the Vietnamese call "The American War," discussion of the conflict remains as divisive and emotionally charged as it was all those years ago.

The Vietnamese victors celebrate each April 30th what they call their day of "Giải Phóng" - liberation. Many of the Vietnamese who supported the American side and fled their homeland describe that day as "Ngày Quốc Nhục" - a National Day of Shame.
While Rory Kennedy's film "Last Days in Vietnam" portrays powerfully the human drama played out in the final 48 hours of the war, a number of critics have raised serious questions about the brief treatment of the history leading up to those compelling hours.

The issues prompting the greatest debate involve the controversial January 1973 Paris Peace Accords and their impact on developments in South Vietnam in the two years to follow.
Very few observers at the time saw the agreement as anything but a fig leaf behind which to bring home American prisoners of war in North Vietnam and to extricate remaining US troops in South Vietnam.

"Last Days..." leaves unchallenged the view of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"We thought it would be the beginning not of peace in the American sense but the beginning of a period of co-existence," Kissinger recalls, "It might evolve as it did in Korea into two states."
For starters, the United States has stationed more than 30,000 troops in Korea for more than sixty years to guarantee a two state situation on the peninsula. In Vietnam no such role for the U-S was ever envisioned; was ever possible.
Arnold Isaacs, journalist and author of "Without Honor: Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia," argues the historical section of the film risks allowing "a false narrative take root in the public mind." He points out that the film makes it appear that North Vietnam suddenly and unilaterally broke the Paris treaty and conquered the south in 1975.

For journalists there at the time, it was not that simple. Both sides, not just one were responsible for the agreement's failure.
The Peace Accord called for a "ceasefire" in place with each side holding positions as they were at 8 am on January 28, 1973.
"From its first hours, Kissinger's peace was never anything but an illusion," writes Isaacs. Except in a handful of places, for a few weeks in early February, neither side "observed any restriction on military operations." Neither side ever took any steps to carry out the agreement's political provisions, which were supposed to lead to free elections and peaceful reunification.

In 1973 and 1974, South Vietnam, squandering large stockpiles of weaponry, engaged in a land grab. In the two years after the Peace agreement, South Vietnamese battle deaths soared to more than 56,000; a higher casualty rate than at any time except in the years of the major offensives of 1968 and 1972.
By the end of 1974, the military strategy of Nguyen Van Thieu had left his forces exhausted. President from 1967-1975, Thieu is mentioned only in passing in the film. In addition, Thieu depended on an American style "rich man's war," heavily dependent on air power. The combined forces of North Vietnam and the southern National Liberation Front never had that luxury.
When American supplies of munitions for 1974-1975 failed to match those of earlier years, Thieu's commanders had to "ration" air support, fuel, artillery and all other ordinance.

Also missing from the film's narrative is any reference to the incompetence and corruption of some of the South Vietnam command.
Newsweek Correspondent Loren Jenkins accompanying South Vietnam's Economics Minister in 1974 recalls his shock at witnessing the minister handing out fresh $100 bills to military commanders in Da Nang and Hue. "They lined up like school boys at a candy store for their handouts" said Jenkins.

In February 1975, New York Times Correspondent Fox Butterfield reported on a captured North Vietnamese document which spelled out accurately the weaknesses of the South Vietnamese military.
"Corruption and poor leadership particularly in the Central Highlands," was specifically mentioned. Butterfield recalls visiting the city of Pleiku early in the year to discover a demoralized army, rationing armaments, and plagued by alarming drug addiction. "Up to 30% of combat soldiers and airmen were addicted to heroin," he reported.

To be sure, some South Vietnamese units fought valiantly to defend a way of life much different from that enjoyed in Communist Party dominated North Vietnam. Equally certain, the "revolutionary nationalists" who had coalesced around Ho Chi Minh in the early 1940's had never given up their determination to achieve a single unified Vietnam.

As it turned out, the rapid unravelling of South Vietnamese troops in the Central Highlands and the loss of the city of Ban Mê Thuột in March 1975 emboldened the combined "revolutionary forces" and sealed the fate of the South.
Not even the confident commander of the "Great Spring Victory," General Văn Tiến Dũng, who I interviewed in Hanoi in March 2000, thought he could take the Central Highlands so easily and go on to win a total victory in 55 days. The high command's timetable in December 1974 called for the main offensive in the Central Highlands which would "create conditions for total victory" sometime in 1976.

Around noon on April 30, 1975, "a great cheer went up in the command bunker (19 miles north of Saigon) and we began to hug each other," General Dũng told me, "we had captured Saigon well ahead of our plan."
Nearly three weeks later, my longtime colleague and cameraman, Neil Davis and I met a junior North Vietnamese military commander who marveled at how wealthy Saigon was compared to Hanoi. "What I don't understand is why the South didn't fight harder for all these riches," he said, "Didn't they realize we were destitute in the North."

Because of the wide distribution and impact of "Last Days...," the American Experience project will no doubt become a key resource explaining the Vietnam War to millions of people too young to recall the war or lacking much understanding of its complex history. Accuracy and context in treating these events, becomes therefore even more essential.




Update April 3, 2015

This month we are marking 40 years since events in Indochina changed drastically the lives of tens of millions of people.   The end of the American War in Vietnam on April 30th.  The American pull out of Cambodia on April 12th and the Khmer Rouge take over on April 17th.     The beginning of a massive flood of refugees from Vietnam.    April 1975 was among the most gut wrenching of this correspondent's life.  Cataclismic events, the loss of friends, and the start of new friendships.  

On April 3 1975, we were in Phnom Pemh.   By April 26th, we were in Saigon.  There will be many recollections in the days ahead.

Update February 20, 2015

Will be watching with interest the Oscars on Sunday for the awards in the documentary categories. Among the Academy's documentary feature nominees are Rory Kennedy's LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM. We are betting it WILL NOT win. Likely winner - Laura Poitras film about Edward Snowden "Citizen Four" We had a bit part in the Kennedy film.

Update December 15, 2014

Asia travels ended for now.   New York and Washington until the end of the year.

Update December 7 2014

Asia travels continue.  Hong Kong Nov 13-20.   Asia premiere LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM November 17th.    Saigon Nov 20-29.    Da Nang November 30.   Hanoi December 1-2.   Beijing December 3-6.   Shanghai December 6-9.  Hong Kong  December 10-11....  and more    follow the travels on   https://www.facebook.com/focus.asia

Update November 1 2014

Preparing to leave Washington for Asia.  From November 10th will be travelling from New York to Hong Kong, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Bangkok, Hanoi, Beijing, Shanghai - returning to the US in mid-December.  Follow the travels on our FACEBOOK page

Update September 17, 2014

A further note on the Rory Kennedy film in which we have a BIT part.

LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM is finishing up a screening this week in Washington DC and in New York but it opening across the US over the next several weeks.  it is a flawed film in its telling of history but a well told human story of events of 40 years ago ... April 29-30, 1975.  Very much part of this reporters life.

 Update June 16, 2014 

This week in Washington DC - the new Rory Kennedy documentary film 'LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM' is showing.  Saturday June 21 1045a at the Naval Heritage Center in DC.  Sunday June 22nd at AFI Silver in Maryland.   Will be attending.

Update June 6, 2014

Looking back again to events 25 years ago in Beijing. What strikes the reporter is that some of the most shocking, angry and emotional events occurred in the two weeks after the Tian An Men crackdown.   Here is a selection of reports aired June 5 1989 to June 15 1989.

Update June 3, 2014

25 Years ago - June 4th.  We witnessed the uprising and the repression of the Tian An Men movement.  Two videos that might be worth watching.


Check out Anthony Thomas' film  THE TANK MAN    -  film available from PBS.

Update May 23, 2014

     I rarely put very personal items unrelated to work on jimlaurie.com, but today is an exception. This weekend is a very special graduation at Brown University. Son Chris, age 21, graduates with a degree in Biology on Sunday. Chris seeks a career in the sciences or medicine and this Dad is very proud.

Update April 30, 2014

End of April always an emotional time for this reporter. I left Cambodia in advance of the Khmer Rouge take over on April 12, 1975 and on April 30th 1975 watched North Vietnamese troops take the city of Saigon. I have assembled on youtube two play lists to mark these events.



Update April 12, 2014

The weekly talk/culture/cause focused show shot in Burbank California that we have been helping to launch, debuts tonight.   FULL FRAME profiles Bill Gates Saturday April 12th and Yo Yo Ma on April 19th.  It airs at 8pm US eastern time on the CCTV News channel.   Produced by CCTV America and anchored by Mike Walter...  see below for on line preview.

Bill Gates and some of the Foundation causes:  malaria, polio eradication, and vaccination controversy.


Yo Yo Ma and 'passion driven' education. 


let me know what you think. write This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Update April 6, 2014

Our client CCTV America launches new programs tomorrow.
With a lot of hard work from more than 120 colleagues in Washington, the US production arm of China Central television expands its programming (Monday) from 6pm US eastern time. A new newshour at 7... business show at 8.... and Anand Naidoo hosts a new talk show after the news at 9pm. Later in the week Mike Walter launches a new culture and cause based show called 'Full Frame' and Elaine Reyes' South America show 'Americas Now' expands to a full one hour. http://www.cctv-america.tv/livenews/

Update March 30, 2014 

Our client, CCTV America now in rehearsals for expanded programming to be rolled out from Washington in stages on April 7th, 12th, 13th and May 1st.   They will add more than three hours a day of new original programming.   Among the shows to be launched - a new one out of Los Angeles - a cultural and cause based talk and feature program called FULL FRAME.   Debuting April 12th.   See a short preview here:   https://vimeo.com/90206629

Update February 26, 2014

CCTV America, the American production are of China's global English language channel, has announced it will expand US programming from Monday April 7th 2014.   The Washington DC production center will be responsible for all channel programming from 6pm US eastern time (6 am Beijing) to 10pm.   New news and talk programming will be rolled out.  See the Focus Asia page for more.

Update February 17, 2014

Note:  We have posted to the Focus Asia Productions page new job openings available at CCTV America in Washington DC>

Update January 18, 2014

AT SUNDANCE - Park City Utah. Documentary: "Last Days in Vietnam" at the Sundance Film Festival

The premiere of the latest Vietnam historical film was a highly emotional occasion.

There were few dry eyes in the house as Director Rory Kennedy unveiled her finely crafted story of
Americans and their struggle to help evacuate tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the last days
of April 1975.

Former US Army Captain Stuart Herrington provides the essential narrative from beginning to end.
Attached to the US Embassy's defense attache' office and a Vietnamese speaker, Herrington
promises to evacuate thousands of Vietnamese huddled around the swimming pool at the Saigon Embassy.
It is a promise that haunts him to this day.

The film features a wide range of interviews and familiar accounts. Former CIA analyst Frank Sneppdescribes                             the inevitable and disastrous end. The harshness of his criticism of Ambassador Graham Martin seems
undiminished. Snepp repeats the story of his fellow South Carolinian's refusal to accept the reality of what
was happening on the ground and order what might have been a more disciplined end to America's
wartime involvement in Vietnam. Snepp's powerful account was first told in 1977 in 'Decent Interval:
An Insider's Account of Saigon's Indecent End.' 

(Snepp's account of his battle with the CIA over the book is told in his 1999 memoir 'Irreparable Harm.')

The film's most dramatic moments come in the retelling of two lesser known dramas of April 29-30.

There could be no more powerful story told than that of the work of Vietnamese Navy Deputy Chief of
Staff for Operations, Đỗ Kiem and Richard Armitage, who had returned to Saigon only on April 24th attached
to the defense attaches office.

Armitage and Đỗ Kiem put together a river evacuation which took more than 30,000 Vietnamese on 32 vessels;
down the Saigon River; rendezvousing with the American destroyer USS Kirk off the island of Côn Sơn.
The Kirk then leads a flimsy flotilla nearly 1000 miles to Subic Bay the Philippines in an operation totally unauthorized by the US or Philippine governments.
As Armitage puts it in the film: 'It was easier to ask for forgiveness than it was to ask for permission.'

(A footnote to this story: 18 year old Xuan Xanh Vo was one of those who escaped Vietnam on the April 30th shiplift.  16 years later Ms. Vo became my wife.)

The story of helicopter pilot Nguyen Ba and the dramatic rescue of his family to the safety of the battleship Kirk
had the packed house at the old Racket Club theater in Park City Utah gasping in astonishment.

Ba, flying solo a CH 47 Chinook helicopter, airlifts his wife and three children along with a half dozen others from a
school yard in Saigon to the battleship Kirk. The helicopter clearly too large to land on the Kirk's tiny helipad,
Ba maneuvers the giant chopper, hovering above the ship's deck as one by one his passengers jump into the arms of US Navy personnel. He then ditches the aircraft, shrapnel flying everywhere, yet manages to swim to safety

Sitting next to me at the screening were Miki Nguyen and his wife Karen. Miki was six years old when he jumped from his father's helicopter to the deck of the Kirk.  He watched minutes later as his mother veritably threw his 10 month old sister into the arms of Navy men. Sister Mina is today a neuropsychologist in Oregon. Miki and his wife live near Seattle.

The story of the Kirk and its compassionate crew is amplified by Captain Paul Jacobs, ship historian Hugh Doyle and other crew members who sat in the opening night audience.
The remarkable 'Super 8' film of Dan Lucero makes possible the visual telling of the dramatic story.

For those of us who were in Vietnam on those 'final days,' it was a unique opportunity to reconnect to events that defined our lives and meet some amazing individuals.

The film contains the familiar stories and images of a number of 'old Vietnam hacks' no longer with us.
CBS' Bruce Dunning voice once more can be heard from Da Nang. NBC'S Art Lord from Ton Son Nhut as it was being shelled on April 29th ending the 'fixed wing' evacuation. We hear once again the story behind Hugh Van Es' famous 'steps to the helicopter' photograph as told by Frank Snepp.

And in the short section which I narrate, we watch the extraordinary film of my mentor, the late, great Australian photo journalist Neil Davis.  Ms Kennedy's video editor Don Kleszy reducing to slow motion the images of a US Embassy being looted floor by floor as Davis and I reported on the morning of April 30th. 

The flaws in the film lie in its failure to protray fully the historical to the drama of the last 48 hours (April 29-30).  For the old hands, the history section - roughly seven minutes - will be incomplete at best.   That is worrying because a whole generation of people have little or no knowledge of the event of 1973-75 which are critical to understanding the "final days."

The premiere of a film about events nearly 40 years ago, however, brought out a remarkable audience at Sundance.
Much of the audience was young - seeing these events for the first time.
Among old timers at the screening were notables of the entertainment world. Actor, director, activist Rob Reiner watched in rapt attention.
And most curious to me – singer Wayne Newton.

 "My fascination with Vietnam remains," said Newton. Still singing in Las Vegas these days, Newton did a half dozen U-S-O shows during the war, in places as he put it to me "where no one else wanted to go."

Among the film makers, special credit must go to Ms Kennedy's husband Mark Bailey and the ever patient and thorough Keven McAllister, film writers.   Keven spent hours drawing out my recollections.   My only regret is that my wife Xuan Xanh did not sit for an interview.

 'Last Days in Vietnam' will be in theaters around the US for the next year. A longer version of the 98 minute film will air on PBS in April 2015, the 40th anniversary of the 'fall of Vietnam.'  


Update January 1, 2014

35 years ago, we spent New Year’s Day in Beijing.  There was a new years eve party at the Guójì jùlèbù and then a daytime reception at the US Liaison office.   The US and China normalized that day diplomatic relations.   On January 5th 1979…. We would interview Deng Xiaoping with a small group of American journalists.  

We are developing on Youtube a play list of stories related to the occasion.


Update December 17, 2013 

Back from a week in Los Angeles.  Developing a new weekly hour long talk show at KCET television in Burbank.  'Full Frame' is a studio based talk show focusing on film, culture, science, technology and global humanitarian efforts.    In the episode we shot this past week, philanthropist Howard Buffett (son of Warren who some consider the most successful investor of the 20th Century) joined a discussion on solving world hunger and the power of philanthropy.   On the technical side, it gave us our first experience at using virtual designers to build and dress a green screen, virtual set.   Tricky to make a TV program have a 'real' look and feel using the computer tools of virtual design.    Watch this space for video excerpts of the new show which debut (produced by CCTV America) in March.

Update November 16, 2013

Returning to DC from Boston and the Marketplace conference of APT - American Public Television. 

Update October 16 2013

One of the hottest topics in the current media environment is the trend among international broadcasters to seek a place and influence in the American marketplace. The OPC has organized a panel of speakers representing networks that have moved aggressively in the past few years to find a place in the global and American TV news cable and satellite landscape.

The panel will include  MYSELF plus :

Marcy McGinnis, Senior Vice President for News Gathering for Al Jazeera America, the channel of the Qatari based network which went on the air in August.

Elaine Reyes, a news anchor for CCTV America, the American division of the English language news channel of CCTV, China's state broadcaster, which went on the air from Washington in February 2012.

Jay Campbell, President of CAV International, US representative for NHK World, the global English language channel of Japan's public broadcasting company.

Porter Bibb will fill the role of media commentator. A former White House correspondent for
Newsweek and former Corporate Development Director for The New York Times Company
is now Managing Partner of Mediatech Capital Partners

The panel discussion will take place on Wednesday, October 16 at the Ford Foundation East River Room, 320 East 43 Street. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m., Reception at 6 p.m. and the discussion at 6:45 p.m. RSVP is essential. Please call the OPC at 212-626-9220 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Photo ID is necessary to enter the Ford Foundation building.


Two China reads recently completed

Ezra Vogel:  "Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China"

David Shambaugh:  "China Goes Global:  The Partial Power"


For those who follow the global news wars... the autumn is shaping up to be quite a battle. Al Jazeera and its new channel launches the end of August. CCTV America by November will launch five more hours of daily programming out of Washington... and

the Russians - are hiring Larry King for an RT talk show.
On AJAM, see former AJE Director Tony Burman and his scathing critique of Al Jazeera's plans. Says they are squandering not only hundreds of millions of dollars in America but their unique global advantage as well =

Update May 18, 2013

 Earlier in the week we were in Miami for the annual meeting of the US Public Broadcasting System.

What do general managers, programming people, marketing specialists, and other Public Broadcasting members talk about over three days? Well funding is always an issue.  But this year ratings and the remarkable popularity of PBS programming. The 7 plus ratings shares on Sunday nights are NOT thanks to American TV producers but to friends across the Atlantic: the British.  The Downton Abbey phenom dominated the talk of the Miami conclave.  Not only Downton which enters its 4th season on PBS on January but other ITV and BBC staples.  Curiously British viewers quickly tired of some of these stylish 'soaps' but American viewers remain loyal.   What I fail to understand in this incredibly connected world is why ITV and PBS don't launch their programming simultaneously.  Makes no sense to me to have Downton 4 start in September in the UK but five months later in the US of A.

The other talk of Miami was of documentaries.   Frontline and Ken Burns still churning out quality products.

Incidentally, Frontline Dep ExecProd Raney Aronson notes that in the past FIVE years 12,000 American journalists have lost their jobs.

What she didn't say is that among the few hiring Americans these days are the global news channels: Al Jazeera English, China Central Television, RT, and France 24.

A most amusing tribute this week to film maker Ken Burns from his brother Ric. Ken turns age 60 this summer. Ken has produced 22 films for PBS since his first on the Brooklyn Bridge and of course the record breaking Civil War series. Of personal interest - his Vietnam film (interviewing soldiers both Vietnamese and American) will be released in January 2015. Before then films on FDR and other projects.  Further note PBS' The American Experience will release a film on the Fall of Saigon due for release in 2014.

Update April 26, 2013

Just back to Washington from Los Angeles.  Thanks to Al Jerome, Paul Mason, and others at KCET/Link TV for their warm reception.  Look forward to co-production possibilities in September.

Update April 17, 2013

http://tinyurl.com/c7j4vu8 In New York April 19-20. Sharing/learning tips on social media applications for television news -courtesy of the BBC and the New York Times       an old dog learns new tricks

Update April 10, 2013

In Ohio on Thursday (a novelty for this Asia traveller) joining James Fallows, Jeff Bader and other luminaries for a day long China conference: http://lnkd.in/V_6QK2

Great Decisions Forum to Focus on China’s International Clout           see wooster.edu

"WOOSTER, Ohio — An impressive array of international experts will examine China’s growing influence when The College of Wooster hosts the 2013 Great Decisions Forum April 11-12…."

Update April 1, 2013

Good lunch session today at the American Foreign Service Association sponsored by University of Southern California

International Broadcasting in the Social Media Era.   On panel with Jill Dougherty of CNN,  Phil Seib of  USC and

Bruce Sherman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and special thanks to Adam Clayton Powell III of the USC Annenberg Center

Update March 30, 2013

Back from Saigon – writing a short recent history of Vietnam

Update March 23, 2013

Asia travels - Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam coming to an end soon.   Thanks to all who helped make it a successful journey: Phoenix TV, Ruan Zong Qin, KK Leung, friends at the FCC, Ying Chan, Dr Irene in Bangkok, Eric Olander in Saigon, Robin Austin, Tam, Bai, Nung and all the extended family.   Now back in Washington.  Back to Asia soon. 

Update March 13, 2013

Inspiring dinner in Saigon with Robin King Austin and her husband Randall. Resident in Vietnam for nine years, Robin is the founder of the VinaCapital Foundation underwriting heart surgery for needy Vietnamese children. She is now turning some of her attention to Burma AKA Myanmar The Vietnam work continues http://www.vinacapitalfoundation.org/heartbeat-vietnam/?lang=en

Update March 9, 2913

Good several days of FAPltd meetings in Hong Kong - impressive Phoenix TV operation in Tai Po ...
Good to meet Ruan Zongqin (our paths had crossed in Beijing when he was with the Foreign Ministry 1980 to 1997)

Update February 28, 2013

We are off travelling for the next twenty days or so... first to Los Angeles where we will be exchanging views with an assembly at the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy http://lnkd.in/Vg3HyZ

See more at


Update February 3, 2013

Interviewed today by Keven McCallister, a producer for an upcoming two hour 'American Experience' program on PBS.   The film focuses on the last days of the Vietnam War  (1973-1975). The filmwill premiere in Spring 2014.  

Update February 2, 2013

Remarkable event in Cambodia for the next several days.  Wish I were there.    The funeral of former King Norodom Sihanouk.