Spotlight on Viet Nam
Christopher Goscha’s “Vietnam: A New History” certainly takes account of the important role that the United States—as well as the Chinese and Soviets and before them the French and Japanese—has played in Vietnam’s history over the past two centuries, but he also “emphasizes Vietnam’s own role in shaping its history and highlights the country’s extraordinary diversity and complexity.”
Vietnam: A New History
In Vietnam, Christopher Goscha tells the full history of Vietnam, from antiquity to the present day. Generations of emperors, rebels, priests, and colonizers left complicated legacies in this remarkable country. Periods of Chinese, French, and Japanese rule reshaped and modernized Vietnam, but so too did the colonial enterprises of the Vietnamese themselves as they extended their influence southward from the Red River Delta. Over the centuries, numerous kingdoms, dynasties, and states have ruled over—and fought for—what is now Vietnam. Trinh and Nguyen military lords led competing states in the seventeenth century. French colonizers grouped Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia in an Indochinese Union, but governed Vietnam itself as three separate territorial units. The bloody Cold War–era conflict between Ho Chi Minh’s communist-backed Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the American-backed Republic of Vietnam was only the most recent instance when war divided and transformed Vietnam.
A major achievement, Vietnam offers the grand narrative of the country’s complex past and the creation of the modern state of Vietnam. At a time when more and more visitors come to Vietnam and Southeast Asia is again at the center of intense global rivalries, this is the definitive single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand Vietnam today.
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Vietnam and the South China Sea: Politics, Security and Legality
Do Thanh Hai
Studies of the escalating tensions and competing claims in the South China Sea overwhelmingly focus on China and its increasingly assertive approach, while the position of the other claimants is overlooked. This book focuses on the attitude of Vietnam towards the South China Sea dispute. It examines the position from a historical perspective, shows how Vietnam’s position is affected by its wish to maintain good relations with China on a range of issues, and outlines how Vietnam has occasionally made overtures to both the United States and Japan in order to bolster its position, and considered the possibility, so far resisted, of taking China to formal arbitration under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The book concludes by assessing the future prospects for Vietnam’s position in the dispute.
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A Vietnamese Moses: Philiphe Binh and the Geographies of Early Modern Catholicism
George E. Dutton
Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War
Viet Thanh Nguyen
All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory. From the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer comes a searching exploration of the conflict Americans call the Vietnam War and Vietnamese call the American War—a conflict that lives on in the collective memory of both nations.
From a kaleidoscope of cultural forms—novels, memoirs, cemeteries, monuments, films, photography, museum exhibits, video games, souvenirs, and more—Nothing Ever Dies brings a comprehensive vision of the war into sharp focus. At stake are ethical questions about how the war should be remembered by participants that include not only Americans and Vietnamese but also Laotians, Cambodians, South Koreans, and Southeast Asian Americans. Too often, memorials valorize the experience of one’s own people above all else, honoring their sacrifices while demonizing the “enemy”—or, most often, ignoring combatants and civilians on the other side altogether. Visiting sites across the United States, Southeast Asia, and Korea, Viet Thanh Nguyen provides penetrating interpretations of the way memories of the war help to enable future wars or struggle to prevent them.
Drawing from this war, Nguyen offers a lesson for all wars by calling on us to recognize not only our shared humanity but our ever-present inhumanity. This is the only path to reconciliation with our foes, and with ourselves. Without reconciliation, war’s truth will be impossible to remember, and war’s trauma impossible to forget.
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