Mai Elliot

    Mai Elliot headshot

    ← Back to the List

    Mai Elliot headshot


    Mai Elliott was born in Vietnam and grew up in Hanoi and Saigon.  She attended French schools in Vietnam and is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (She also writes under the name of Duong Van Mai Elliott). 

    She is the author of The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family, a personal and family memoir which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.  Her second book, RAND in Southeast Asia: A History of the Vietnam War Era, chronicles RAND’s research projects in Vietnam during the war — conducted at the behest of policy makers in Washington D.C.–  and the impact of this work on RAND itself.  

     The New Yorker magazine noted that her family memoir is “as engrossing as fine literary fiction and…indispensable to understanding Vietnam from a Vietnamese perspective.”

    In a 2016 podcast, author Malcolm Gladwell called her family memoir “beautiful” and her book about RAND “brilliant,” and listed both on his podcast website as recommended readings. Mai Elliott served as an advisor to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for their documentary on The Vietnam War, which aired on PBS in September 2017, and featured in seven of the ten episodes of the film.  She is a frequent speaker and writer on Vietnam.  She recently contributed a chapter for a Cambridge University Press 3-volume work on the Vietnam War, and has completed a novel set in Vietnam in the early 1960s. She is currently translating her personal and family memoir into Vietnamese.