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MEMOIRS

Memoirs by former South Vietnamese living in the U.S. usually include life in South Vietnam, postwar Vietnam, and America. The following titles are stronger on postwar Vietnam than the other periods. For others, see the section on memoirs from the page on refugees and immigrants.

  • Ngoc Quang Huynh, Jade. South Wind Changing: A Memoir.  St. Paul: Graywolf Press, 1994.
  • Vũ Đình Trác. Rồng Xanh Ngục Đỏ: Hồi Ký của Người Tị Nạn Cộng Sản Thứ Một Triệu Lẻ Một. Garden Grove, CA: Hội Hữu, 1986.  Memoir of a now deceased Catholic priest about himself and his religious order during the first five years after the war.  After their building was confiscated by the postwar government, he was allowed to practice traditional medicine at a Saigon hospital. Among other things, the book contains a good deal of information about medical care during the pre-reform period.  

PRE-REFORM / SOCIALIST PERIOD

DIPLOMACY

  • Menétrey-Monchau, Cécile. American-Vietnamese Relations in the Wake of War: Diplomacy After the Capture of Saigon, 1975-1979. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006.  Exactly what the title says, this is a diplomatic history of unified Vietnam and the U.S. It looks at the big picture and issues most important to the U.S., but there are also a number of references about refugees during this period.

REEDUCATION CAMPS – Listed are accounts and studies in English. There are numerous accounts in Vietnamese.

  • Metzner, Edward P, Huynh Van Chinh, Tran Van Phuc, and Le Nguyen Binh. Reeducation in Postwar Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2001.   Relatively short accounts about the lives of three former South Vietnamese colonels: from their youth to military years to imprisonment.
  • Tran Tri Vu. Lost Years: My 1632 Days in Vietnamese Reeducation Camps. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, 1988.  Possibly the most substantial – and likely the longest – memoir published in English on the subject.

POSTWAR SAIGON

  • Nguyễn Long.  After Saigon Fell: Daily Life Under the Vietnamese Communists. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, 1981.  The author had been an opponent of the Saigon governments during the war, and also studied at UC Berkeley and taught at the Buddhist university Vạn Hạnh.  He left Vietnam in 1979 during the first wave of boat people, and describes in the book his experience and observation of the new regime’s policies and reactions from southern Vietnamese. 
  • Thế Uyên. Sàigon Sau Mười Hai Năm. Xuân Thu, 1989.  Written by a former South Vietnamese author of fiction and essays, this collection makes sharp and insightful observations about the first twelve years in postwar Saigon. Its structure is nicely literary, as Thế Uyên organizes the book as if taking readers on a tour of postwar Saigon with reminders of the old one.  It deserves to be read more widely, and be translated into English.

POST-REFORM / LATE SOCIALIST / GLOBALIZATION ERA

ECONOMY & LABOR

GENDER

CULTURE

POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

  • Hayton, Bill. Vietnam Rising Dragon. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.  Highly readable overview – author is a journalist – of post-reform politics and economy.
  • MacLean, Ken. The Government of Mistrust Illegibility and Bureaucratic Power in Socialist Vietnam. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.
  • Thayer, Carl A. “Political Dissent and Political Reform in Vietnam 1997-2002,” in The Power of Ideas: Intellectual Input and Political Change in East and Southeast Asia, edited by Claudia Derichs & Thomas Heberer.  Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2006.

RELIGION

  • Chu, Lan T. “Catholicism vs. Communism, Continued: The Catholic Church in Vietnam.” In Journal of Vietnamese Studies 3:1 (Winter 2008): 151-192.
  • Taylor, Philip.  Goddess On The Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in Vietnam. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
  • Taylor, Philip, ed. Modernity and Re-enchantment: Religion in Post-revolutionary Vietnam.  Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007.  A rich collection on popular and established religions in the post-socialist era that carries significant implications even for Vietnamese in the diaspora.

REPRESENTATION & MEMORY