When the Communist forces pushed into Saigon in the final days of the Vietnam War, Vo Phien sensed that his country’s past was about to be erased.

Books would be burned, history lessons rewritten, entire cities stripped of their names.

Fearful of what was to come, he resolved to collect and preserve literary treasures, essays that had appeared in newspapers and magazines, books that might soon be banned, even diaries — anything that captured the raw emotions and nervous energy of wartime.