Vietnam Today

Staff Picks

Vietnam Today

So much has been written about the Vietnam War, but finding books about Vietnam today is a bit more difficult.  If you want to see what it’s like in modern day Vietnam maybe these books will be of interest.

Vietnam: Rising Dragon by Bill Hayton
Former BBC News correspondent Bill Hayton is well qualified to interpret modern day Vietnam for western readers.  He analyzes the recent changes which have sought to bring capitalism into the nominally communist society there. The fast-moving changes have challenged the authoritarian political system, complicating the nation’s apparent renaissance.

Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees: a travelogue of Vietnam by C. L. Hoang
C.L. Hoang was born and raised in Vietnam during the war there, but he moved to California in the 70s.  Can you imagine how he felt to travel to his homeland as a tourist for 10 days after forty years of not seeing it? This rather short book is a good way to get a taste of Vietnam today from a Vietnamese perspective as he describes his travels across parts of southern and northern Vietnam. This is a valuable source for anyone planning to travel there.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Vietnamese American writer Nguyen has put together a series of short stories about Vietnamese Americans which dramatize various aspects of life for those who had to leave Vietnam.  Nguyen, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Sympathizer, creates vivid stories about memorable characters.  The story about an old busybody who pesters Vietnamese businesses to give her donations was a charming surprise to me.

Vietnam by the Lonely Planet Country Guides
This is the best travel guide to modern Vietnam.  If you can only get one travel guide to Vietnam, this should be it.  It is well illustrated and full of interesting information to enrich a trip there or make you feel like you went there from your own home.

Vietnam and Angkor Wat by DK Eyewitness Travel
The next-best travel guide on Vietnam, very well illustrated and great fun to look at, like all DK travel guides.