The first general book in English on Vietnamese culture written by specialists.
The latest volume in the Culture and Customs of Asia series, this book is a serviceable and detailed introduction to Vietnam and its people. The authors state that their goal is to provide a book for the nonspecialist that will be of value to anyone from high school to college who might be interested in the subject. They begin by emphasizing the hybrid nature of Vietnamese culture. Historically the region has been a crossroads, heavily influenced by a wide range of ethnic, national, and religious groups. Confucian, Buddhist, animist, Chinese, Catholic, Khmer, French, Communist, and even Muslim beliefs have played a significant role in the formation of modern Vietnam. Although United States involvement in what the authors call the Second Indochina War is given part of a chapter, the book, refreshingly, devotes most of its pages to other, less widely covered topics. Throughout the chapter on the history of this country, it should be noted that the authors maintain a tone that appears to be free from partisanship, giving equal space, for example, to the strengths and weakness of both the Communists and the U.S.-backed Republic of Vietnam government. More space, however, is devoted to such topics as the language, literature, religion, art, cuisine, family structures, attitudes toward gender, contemporary youth culture, festivals, and favorite leisure activities of Vietnam. Although the writing style is somewhat dry, this book includes virtually everything that a student looking for information on Vietnam is likely to need. Glossary. Index. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; SeniorHigh, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Greenwood, 219p. PLB $45. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer: Michael Levy SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)