website & blog of Tuan Hoang, Pepperdine University


South Vietnam

Five recent articles on the Vietnam Conflict

In order of discussion:

  • Balázs Szalontai, “The ‘Sole Legal Government of Vietnam’: The Bao Dai Factor and Soviet Attitudes toward Vietnam, 1947–1950,” Journal of Cold War Studies 20:3 (2018): 3–56.
  • Phi-Vân Nguyen, “A Secular State for a Religious Nation: The Republic of Vietnam and Religious Nationalism, 1946–1963,” Journal of Asian Studies 77:3 (2018): 741–771.
  • Olga Dror, “Education and Politics in Wartime: School Systems in North and South Vietnam, 1965–1975,” Journal of Cold War Studies 20: 3 (2018): 57–113.
  • John C. Schafer, “Ngô Kha, Vietnam’s Civil Wars, and the Need for Forgiveness.” Journal of Vietnamese Studies 13:1 (2018): 1–41.
  • Duy Lap Nguyen, “Sovereignty, Surveillance, and Spectacle in South Vietnamese Spy Fiction,” positions: east asia cultures critique 26:1 (2018): 111–150.

Continue reading “Five recent articles on the Vietnam Conflict”

Catholic-Protestant relations in South Vietnam: competition to collaboration?

I am getting to the last volume of a Catholic periodical from South Vietnam, and it includes news items about a three-and-a-half-week training on translating the Bible. It was held during Mach 1974 in Dalat and at the Alliance Evangelical Center (Trung Tâm Tin Lành Alliance), commonly known as the Villa Alliance at the time. 

Continue reading “Catholic-Protestant relations in South Vietnam: competition to collaboration?”

Lê Hoàng Phu’s 1972 dissertation on the Evangelical Church of Vietnam

After my last post, I went back to the dissertation by the Protestant minister Lê Hoàng Phu (1926-2003) on the history of the Evangelical Church of Vietnam (ECVN) up to 1965. Completed over four and a half decades ago, it is, at 560 pages, on the longer end of dissertations then and even now. Having browsed it before, I read it more slowly this time and found it an important work in several respects.

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There’s too little scholarship about Protestantism in South Vietnam!

VA064225 Prewitt Collection
This chapel in Nha Trang was probably designed for American Baptists at first, but it also drew Vietnamese through activities such as picnics and English classes. ~ pc Charles Prewitt Collection, Vietnam Archives, TTU

Continue reading “There’s too little scholarship about Protestantism in South Vietnam!”

The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fátima in South Vietnam

I wrote the last post about the beginning of Cursillo to South Vietnam, and this one is about the beginning of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fátima. Both occurred during the 1960s around the Americanization of the Vietnam War. Catholics in the Philippines were instrumental to the establishment of Cursillo in South Vietnam. When it comes to the Blue Army, however, it was the initiative of a Vietnamese then studying in the U.S., followed by eager assistance from the Americans, Australians, etc. and eager participation among Vietnamese Catholics. 

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Fortieth anniversary of two Catholic monthlies by Vietnamese refugees


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Interviewing historians: George Veith on his book Black April


The South Vietnamese military – the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF) – has always figured in the voluminous historical scholarship about the Vietnam War.  For a long time and for a host of reasons, however, there was little depth on the topic. 

Continue reading “Interviewing historians: George Veith on his book Black April”

Song of war #6 – Tình Thiên Thu (Eternal Love)

Of the ten songs on this list, this is the only one that tells a story: a true ballad.  It is based on a true story, now told in slightly different versions, about two young lovers in South Vietnam:  Phạm Thái and Nguyễn Thị Mộng ThườngBecause of its personal nature and the artistry of the lyrics and melody, this ballad has been very popular among Vietnamese. One should always be cautious with comparisons, but I am inclined to think of it as the Vietnamese equivalent of  “Where Do I Begin,” the theme song of the movie Love Story that came out two or three years earlier.

Tinh Thien thu cua Nguyen Thi Mong Thuong (Tran Thien Thanh) outside 1


Song of war #7 – Đó! Quê Hương Tôi! (There, My Country!)

Of the eight or nine composers in this compilation of mine – I’m still debating between two songs by two different authors – Vĩnh Điện is by far the least known.  An officer in the South Vietnamese military, he was, I believe, many years younger than the other songwriters on my list. [Correction: He was in fact older than Trần Thiện Thanh – see comment below from Jason Gibbs.]  His output in the Republican South was modest, as fewer than ten songs were recorded before 1975.  My favorite is Vết Thương Sỏi Đá, “The Heavy Wound,” which has to do with the pain of romantic love than suffering from warfare.  Check it out, below or from the website that bears its author’s name.

Imprisoned in reeducation camps for many years after the war, Vĩnh Điện came to the U.S. late in life and, out of his searing experience of prison, brought out a lot of new music. Some of these songs were composed in captivity: as the case with poets and songwriters in the same situation, he kept them in his head.  Other songs were written in America. They have been recorded in a dozen of CDs, and you can read about them in this write-up of more than 150 pages!


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