full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Cameron Paterson: The infamous and ingenious Ho Chi Minh Trail

Unscramble the Blue Letters

Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, soldiers from both sides battled heat exhaustion and each other for nearly 20 long years. But the key to Communist victory wasn't weapons or stamina, it was a dirt road. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, winding through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, started as a smilpe network of dirt roads and blossomed into the centerpiece of the winning North Vietnamese stetrgay during the Vietnam War, supplying weapons, tropos, and psychological support to the South. The trail was a network of tracks, dirt rados, and river crossings that threaded west out of North Vietnam and south along the tnuorg Son Mountain Range between Vietnam and Laos. The journey to the South originally took six months. But, with engineering and ingenuity, the Vietnamese epnxaedd and improved the trail. Towards the end of war, as the main roads detoured through Laos, it only took one week. Here is how it happened. In 1959, as relations deteriorated between the North and the South, a system of trails was constructed in order to infiltrate soldiers, weapons, and supplies into South Vietnam. The first troops moved in single-file along roetus used by local ethnic groups, and broken tree branches at dusty csrodorass were often all that indicated the drcteoiin. Initially, most of the Communist cadres who came down the trail were Southerners by brith who had traenid in North veinatm. They dressed like civilian petsaans in black, silk pajamas with a ckrecehed scarf. They wore Ho Chi Minh sandals on their feet, cut from truck tires, and carried their riaotn of cooked rice in elephants' intestines, a linen tube hung around the body. The conditions were hrash and many deaths were cueasd by exposure, malaria, and amoebic dysentery. Getting lost, starving to death, and the possibility of ataktcs by wild tigers or bears were constant threats. Meals were invariably just rice and salt, and it was easy to run out. Fear, boredom, and homesickness were the dinamont emotions. And soeildrs ouiecpcd their spare time by writing letters, drniawg sketches, and drninkig and smoking with local villagers. The first troops down the tiral did not engage in much fnhgitig. And after an exhausting six month trip, arriving in the South was a real highlight, often celebrated by bursting into song. By 1965, the trip down the trail could be made by truck. Thousands of trucks supplied by China and Russia took up the task amidst ferocious B-52 bombing and truck drivers became known as pilots of the ground. As traffic down the trail increased, so did the U.S. bnimobg. They dvroe at night or in the early morning to avoid air strikes, and watchmen were ready to warn drivers of enemy araricft. Villages along the trail oneziargd tmeas to guarantee tfriafc flow and to help diervrs repair damage caused by air attacks. Their catch creis were, "Everything for our srtuoehn brothers!" and, "We will not worry about our houses if the vehicles have not yet gotten through." Some families donated their doors and wooden beds to repair roads. Vietnamese frecos even used deception to get the U.S. aircraft to bomb mountainsides in order to make gravel for use in building and maintaining roads. The all-pervading red dust seeped into every nook and cnrnay. The Ho Chi Minh Trail had a profound impact on the Vietnam War and it was the key to Hanoi's success. North vimentaese victory was not determined by the beftdteillas, but by the trail, which was the political, strategic, and economic lynchpin. acamnires recognized its achievement, calling the trail, "One of the geart achievements in military enigreneing of the 20th century." The trail is a tmteoisny to the strength of will of the Vietnamese people, and the men and wemon who used the trail have become folk heros.

Open Cloze

Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, soldiers from both sides battled heat exhaustion and each other for nearly 20 long years. But the key to Communist victory wasn't weapons or stamina, it was a dirt road. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, winding through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, started as a ______ network of dirt roads and blossomed into the centerpiece of the winning North Vietnamese ________ during the Vietnam War, supplying weapons, ______, and psychological support to the South. The trail was a network of tracks, dirt _____, and river crossings that threaded west out of North Vietnam and south along the ______ Son Mountain Range between Vietnam and Laos. The journey to the South originally took six months. But, with engineering and ingenuity, the Vietnamese ________ and improved the trail. Towards the end of war, as the main roads detoured through Laos, it only took one week. Here is how it happened. In 1959, as relations deteriorated between the North and the South, a system of trails was constructed in order to infiltrate soldiers, weapons, and supplies into South Vietnam. The first troops moved in single-file along ______ used by local ethnic groups, and broken tree branches at dusty __________ were often all that indicated the _________. Initially, most of the Communist cadres who came down the trail were Southerners by _____ who had _______ in North _______. They dressed like civilian ________ in black, silk pajamas with a _________ scarf. They wore Ho Chi Minh sandals on their feet, cut from truck tires, and carried their ______ of cooked rice in elephants' intestines, a linen tube hung around the body. The conditions were _____ and many deaths were ______ by exposure, malaria, and amoebic dysentery. Getting lost, starving to death, and the possibility of _______ by wild tigers or bears were constant threats. Meals were invariably just rice and salt, and it was easy to run out. Fear, boredom, and homesickness were the ________ emotions. And ________ ________ their spare time by writing letters, _______ sketches, and ________ and smoking with local villagers. The first troops down the _____ did not engage in much ________. And after an exhausting six month trip, arriving in the South was a real highlight, often celebrated by bursting into song. By 1965, the trip down the trail could be made by truck. Thousands of trucks supplied by China and Russia took up the task amidst ferocious B-52 bombing and truck drivers became known as pilots of the ground. As traffic down the trail increased, so did the U.S. _______. They _____ at night or in the early morning to avoid air strikes, and watchmen were ready to warn drivers of enemy ________. Villages along the trail _________ _____ to guarantee _______ flow and to help _______ repair damage caused by air attacks. Their catch _____ were, "Everything for our ________ brothers!" and, "We will not worry about our houses if the vehicles have not yet gotten through." Some families donated their doors and wooden beds to repair roads. Vietnamese ______ even used deception to get the U.S. aircraft to bomb mountainsides in order to make gravel for use in building and maintaining roads. The all-pervading red dust seeped into every nook and ______. The Ho Chi Minh Trail had a profound impact on the Vietnam War and it was the key to Hanoi's success. North __________ victory was not determined by the ____________, but by the trail, which was the political, strategic, and economic lynchpin. _________ recognized its achievement, calling the trail, "One of the _____ achievements in military ___________ of the 20th century." The trail is a _________ to the strength of will of the Vietnamese people, and the men and _____ who used the trail have become folk heros.

Solution

  1. strategy
  2. vietnam
  3. trained
  4. testimony
  5. troops
  6. crossroads
  7. engineering
  8. occupied
  9. women
  10. roads
  11. teams
  12. peasants
  13. americans
  14. truong
  15. forces
  16. drawing
  17. soldiers
  18. ration
  19. harsh
  20. bombing
  21. direction
  22. checkered
  23. drove
  24. battlefields
  25. traffic
  26. trail
  27. drinking
  28. aircraft
  29. cries
  30. simple
  31. attacks
  32. birth
  33. expanded
  34. caused
  35. fighting
  36. great
  37. dominant
  38. routes
  39. southern
  40. organized
  41. vietnamese
  42. cranny
  43. drivers

Original Text

Deep in the jungles of Vietnam, soldiers from both sides battled heat exhaustion and each other for nearly 20 long years. But the key to Communist victory wasn't weapons or stamina, it was a dirt road. The Ho Chi Minh Trail, winding through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, started as a simple network of dirt roads and blossomed into the centerpiece of the winning North Vietnamese strategy during the Vietnam War, supplying weapons, troops, and psychological support to the South. The trail was a network of tracks, dirt roads, and river crossings that threaded west out of North Vietnam and south along the Truong Son Mountain Range between Vietnam and Laos. The journey to the South originally took six months. But, with engineering and ingenuity, the Vietnamese expanded and improved the trail. Towards the end of war, as the main roads detoured through Laos, it only took one week. Here is how it happened. In 1959, as relations deteriorated between the North and the South, a system of trails was constructed in order to infiltrate soldiers, weapons, and supplies into South Vietnam. The first troops moved in single-file along routes used by local ethnic groups, and broken tree branches at dusty crossroads were often all that indicated the direction. Initially, most of the Communist cadres who came down the trail were Southerners by birth who had trained in North Vietnam. They dressed like civilian peasants in black, silk pajamas with a checkered scarf. They wore Ho Chi Minh sandals on their feet, cut from truck tires, and carried their ration of cooked rice in elephants' intestines, a linen tube hung around the body. The conditions were harsh and many deaths were caused by exposure, malaria, and amoebic dysentery. Getting lost, starving to death, and the possibility of attacks by wild tigers or bears were constant threats. Meals were invariably just rice and salt, and it was easy to run out. Fear, boredom, and homesickness were the dominant emotions. And soldiers occupied their spare time by writing letters, drawing sketches, and drinking and smoking with local villagers. The first troops down the trail did not engage in much fighting. And after an exhausting six month trip, arriving in the South was a real highlight, often celebrated by bursting into song. By 1965, the trip down the trail could be made by truck. Thousands of trucks supplied by China and Russia took up the task amidst ferocious B-52 bombing and truck drivers became known as pilots of the ground. As traffic down the trail increased, so did the U.S. bombing. They drove at night or in the early morning to avoid air strikes, and watchmen were ready to warn drivers of enemy aircraft. Villages along the trail organized teams to guarantee traffic flow and to help drivers repair damage caused by air attacks. Their catch cries were, "Everything for our Southern brothers!" and, "We will not worry about our houses if the vehicles have not yet gotten through." Some families donated their doors and wooden beds to repair roads. Vietnamese forces even used deception to get the U.S. aircraft to bomb mountainsides in order to make gravel for use in building and maintaining roads. The all-pervading red dust seeped into every nook and cranny. The Ho Chi Minh Trail had a profound impact on the Vietnam War and it was the key to Hanoi's success. North Vietnamese victory was not determined by the battlefields, but by the trail, which was the political, strategic, and economic lynchpin. Americans recognized its achievement, calling the trail, "One of the great achievements in military engineering of the 20th century." The trail is a testimony to the strength of will of the Vietnamese people, and the men and women who used the trail have become folk heros.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
ho chi 3
chi minh 3
north vietnamese 2
north vietnam 2

ngrams of length 3

collocation frequency
ho chi minh 3

Important Words

  1. achievement
  2. achievements
  3. air
  4. aircraft
  5. americans
  6. amoebic
  7. arriving
  8. attacks
  9. avoid
  10. battled
  11. battlefields
  12. bears
  13. beds
  14. birth
  15. black
  16. blossomed
  17. body
  18. bomb
  19. bombing
  20. boredom
  21. branches
  22. broken
  23. building
  24. bursting
  25. cadres
  26. calling
  27. cambodia
  28. carried
  29. catch
  30. caused
  31. celebrated
  32. centerpiece
  33. century
  34. checkered
  35. chi
  36. china
  37. civilian
  38. communist
  39. conditions
  40. constant
  41. constructed
  42. cooked
  43. cranny
  44. cries
  45. crossings
  46. crossroads
  47. cut
  48. damage
  49. death
  50. deaths
  51. deception
  52. deep
  53. deteriorated
  54. determined
  55. detoured
  56. direction
  57. dirt
  58. dominant
  59. donated
  60. doors
  61. drawing
  62. dressed
  63. drinking
  64. drivers
  65. drove
  66. dust
  67. dusty
  68. dysentery
  69. early
  70. easy
  71. economic
  72. emotions
  73. enemy
  74. engage
  75. engineering
  76. ethnic
  77. exhausting
  78. exhaustion
  79. expanded
  80. exposure
  81. families
  82. fear
  83. feet
  84. ferocious
  85. fighting
  86. flow
  87. folk
  88. forces
  89. gravel
  90. great
  91. ground
  92. groups
  93. guarantee
  94. happened
  95. harsh
  96. heat
  97. heros
  98. highlight
  99. ho
  100. homesickness
  101. houses
  102. hung
  103. impact
  104. improved
  105. increased
  106. infiltrate
  107. ingenuity
  108. initially
  109. intestines
  110. invariably
  111. journey
  112. jungles
  113. key
  114. laos
  115. letters
  116. linen
  117. local
  118. long
  119. lost
  120. lynchpin
  121. main
  122. maintaining
  123. malaria
  124. meals
  125. men
  126. military
  127. minh
  128. month
  129. months
  130. morning
  131. mountain
  132. mountainsides
  133. moved
  134. network
  135. night
  136. nook
  137. north
  138. occupied
  139. order
  140. organized
  141. originally
  142. pajamas
  143. peasants
  144. people
  145. pilots
  146. political
  147. possibility
  148. profound
  149. psychological
  150. range
  151. ration
  152. ready
  153. real
  154. recognized
  155. red
  156. relations
  157. repair
  158. rice
  159. river
  160. road
  161. roads
  162. routes
  163. run
  164. russia
  165. salt
  166. sandals
  167. scarf
  168. seeped
  169. sides
  170. silk
  171. simple
  172. sketches
  173. smoking
  174. soldiers
  175. son
  176. song
  177. south
  178. southern
  179. southerners
  180. spare
  181. stamina
  182. started
  183. starving
  184. strategic
  185. strategy
  186. strength
  187. strikes
  188. success
  189. supplied
  190. supplies
  191. supplying
  192. support
  193. system
  194. task
  195. teams
  196. testimony
  197. thousands
  198. threaded
  199. threats
  200. tigers
  201. time
  202. tires
  203. tracks
  204. traffic
  205. trail
  206. trails
  207. trained
  208. tree
  209. trip
  210. troops
  211. truck
  212. trucks
  213. truong
  214. tube
  215. vehicles
  216. victory
  217. vietnam
  218. vietnamese
  219. villagers
  220. villages
  221. war
  222. warn
  223. watchmen
  224. weapons
  225. week
  226. west
  227. wild
  228. winding
  229. winning
  230. women
  231. wooden
  232. wore
  233. worry
  234. writing
  235. years