Monday, March 22, 2010

Books on Vietnam

Here are five recent titles from our large selection of books on Vietnam.
  • Urbanization, Migration And Poverty In A Vietnamese Metropolis: Ho Chi Minh City In Comparative Perspectives edited by Luong Hy V.. This is a substantial comparative interdisciplinary study of poverty and migration in Ho Chi Minh City. The 16 specialist papers include the findings of fieldwork done mainly 1998 to 2002 in Ho Chi Minh City and in four regional areas from which migrants come. Part 1 deals with the historical contexts and research methodology. Part 2 concerns itself with migration and urbanization including the impetus to migrate and the conditions faced by migrants. Part 3 explores urban poverty including the impact of credit policies and patterns, and Part 4 sets the findings on urbanization, migration and urban poverty and transition into the Southeast Asian context. With much tabulated data, black-and-white photographs, bibliography, and index.
  • Hero And Deity: Tran Hung Dao and the Resurgence of Popular Religion in Vietnam by Pham Quynh Phuong. Hero and Deity is an eloquent and fascinating journey into the world of the worshippers and the cult of Tran Hung Dao. The legendary 14th-century hero and saviour of Vietnam has evolved as a key symbol of the nation as well as an efficacious deity in its spiritual pantheon. He is today a ubiquitous, multivalent symbol of the contradictions of contemporary Vietnamese society. Mapping the cult of Saint Tran "bottom up" and "top down" through the rituals, pilgrimages, and lives of his devotees, Pham Quynh Phuong traces and uncovers the sources of the contestations over the meanings of Tran Hung Dao/Saint Tran. Intertwined with this rich ethnography is a work of self-interrogation and engagement with the author's complex and changing "home," and with the diverse women and men - intellectuals, Communist Party cadres, and market sellers alike - whose lives are centered to a significant degree around the cult of Saint Tran and other deities.
  • Arts of Ancient Viet Nam: From River Plain to Open Sea by Nancy Tingley. Once a strategic trading post that channelled the flow of riches and ideas among countries situated along the South China Sea and places as far away as India and Rome, Vietnam has a fascinating history and an artistic heritage to match it. This lavishly produced catalogue, published to accompany an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (September 2009 to January 2010) and the Asia Society and Museum (February to May 2010), will help introduce English-speaking audiences to Vietnam's amazing body of artwork, ranging from the first millennium B.C. to the 18th century. The authors begin by discussing, for example, the elegant burial jars, iron axes, bronze artefacts, and jewellery of the early Sa Huynh culture; the bronze ritual drums of the Dong Son; and the jewelled gold pieces, excavated from the walled center of Oc Eo in the kingdom of Fu Nan. New scholarship investigates the trade in gold and Chinese ceramics between Cham and the Philippine kingdom of Butuan. The final section is devoted to art from Hoi An, once a major international port. Of note are the ceramic wares produced in northern and central Vietnam from the 16th to 18th century.
  • 'Vietnam': A Portrait of its People at War by David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai. 2009 softback reissue of the 1986 compilation of some 50 personal reminiscences by Vietnamese civilians or combatants on their experiences during the Vietnam War. The book has become a significant landmark for anyone seeking to understand the war and its impacts on Vietnam's very diverse people.
  • Vietnam Rising: Culture and Change in Asia's Tiger Cub by William Ratliff. Vietnam, a country once known for chronic food shortages, is on the rise. At the heart of its transformation are reforms that Vietnam Communist Party officials insist merely "renovate" the economy while maintaining a commitment to socialism. What exactly are the nature and extent of Vietnam's reforms? How have the fundamental beliefs that underlie Vietnamese culture shaped its recent progress? Will Vietnam's progress continue apace? Or will the economy backslide in the face of a global financial crisis or a political and cultural backlash? East Asia historian William Ratliff examines the causes behind Vietnam's dramatic transition; assesses its legal, educational, and economic reforms; and provides insights on the further changes that must occur for Vietnam to fulfill its potential as a dynamic, emerging economy.

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