Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Fourth Uncle in the Mountain

Fourth Uncle in the Mountain

The Remarkable Legacy of a Buddhist Itinerant Doctor in Vietnam

Quang Van Nguyen and Marjorie Pivar

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

Set during the French and American wars in South Vietnam, Fourth Uncle in the Mountain is the true story of an orphan, Quang Van Nguyen, adopted by a sixty-four-year-old monk, Thau, who carries great responsibility for his people as a barefoot doctor. Thau manages against all odds to raise his son to follow in his footsteps and in doing so saves him, as well as a part of Vietnam's esoteric knowledge from the Vietnam holocaust. Thau is wanted by the French regime and occasionally must flee in to the jungle, where he is perfectly at home living among the animals. As wise and resourceful as Thau is, he meets his match in his mischievous son. Quang is more interested in learning Cambodian sorcery and martial arts than in developing his skills and wisdom according to his father's plan. Fourth Uncle in the Mountain is an odyssey of a single-father folk hero and his foundling son in a land ravaged by the atrocities of war. It is a classic story complete with humor, tragedy, and insight, from a country where ghosts and magic are real.


Chapter One
My Father Comes for Me

July 1959

Cai Mon Village, Mekong Delta, South Vietnam

One hot day in July, I looked up at the flesh-eating sun and taunted, "I can lick you with a flick of my hand. Oh, you don't believe...


Praise for Fourth Uncle in the Mountain

“[A] charming book . . . the volume contains a wealth of information about Vietnamese history and culture … an adventure book strung through with passages on selflessness and mindfulness, this volume is an excellent choice for readers interested in Vietnam and Buddhism.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is a magical, mesmerizing story; a complicated tale of Vietnam's anguished history, of healing and faith, and of a young boy's miraculous coming of age.” —Ken Burns, director of Jazz and The Civil War

“When I had read the first few chapters of this engrossing biography, I had stopped a dozen times to recall my times in the Delta and the towns and villages that are mentioned in the book. By the time I had finished – I wanted to go back…. A thoroughly enjoyable read.” —Captain E.G. Adams, The Air America Log

Fourth Uncle in the Mountain is a great story about two simply good men. It is told simply, but simplicity should never be mistaken for a lack of emotional complexity, intellectual refinement, or overwhelming humanity. It is all that.” —The Asian Reporter

“…an unputdownable tale, told in an intimate, oral style with an unassuming wisdom, a thrilling, Castaneda-like search for knowledge as well as a moving tribute to the most profound love between a father and son.” —Nick DeMartino, University Bookstore, Seattle (selected as University Bookstore's 2004 Book of the Year)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Quang Van Nguyen and Marjorie Pivar

Quang Van Nguyen is the son of one of South Vietnam's most beloved spiritual masters, Thau Van Nguyen. Quang became a Buddhist abbot before fleeing Vietnam in 1987. He now lives in the United States.

Marjorie Pivar has worked for the past twenty years as a Shiatsu therapist in the field of alternative medicine. She lives in Vermont.

Marjorie Pivar

Marjorie Pivar

Quang Van Nguyen

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Griffin

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