The French built the first railroad lines, probably to carry goods to ports or move military men and equipment. Of course, these became easy targets during wars.
The Vietcong blew up rail lines in the south, and Americans bombed rail lines in the north.
Today, the lines have been rebuilt and are used for both freight and passengers. One is able to ride the train, with an overnight sleeper, from Hanoi to Saigon. This was not possible during my last visit, as is obvious from the first photo.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.