Vietnam Book List
For students ages seven and up:
Shalant, Phyllis. Look What We've Brought You from Vietnam. New York, NY: Julian Messner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1988.
Surat, Michele Maria. Angel Child, Dragon Child. New York, NY: Scholastic Trade, 1989.
Tereda, Alice M. Under the Starfruit Tree: Folk Tales From Vietnam Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, Reprint edition, 1993.
Tran, Ngoc Dung. To Swim in Our Own Pond: A Book of Vietnamese Proverbs Arcadia, CA: Shen's Books, 1998.
Willis, Terri. Vietnam: Enchantment of the World. Danbury, CT: Children's Press, a Division of Scholastic Inc., 2002
Sloneker, Lynn L. ed. Faces: People, Places, and Cultures. Vietnam. Special Issue of Peterborough, NH. A Cobblestone Publication, September 1997.
For high school students:
Caputo, Philip. A Rumor of War. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1994.
Hayslip, Le Ly. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places. New York: NY, Plume, 1993.
Balaban, John, ed. Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2000.
The poet, an eighteenth century concubine, writes boldly about religious and societal hypocrisy, the low status of women, and other issues of the era. Presented side-by-side in the original form of the calligraphic language Nom, modern Vietnamese and English translations.
Do, Hien Duc. The Vietnamese Americans. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
The Vietnamese Americans, written by a former Vietnamese refugee, is an in-depth resource especially for students and general readers with a solid introduction to Vietnam, the history of Vietnamese immigration, and a forthright analysis of Vietnamese Americans' struggles to forge a better future.
Chinh, Trand Trung and Nguyen Huy Hong. Vietnamese Traditional Water Puppetry. Hanoi, Vietnam: The Gioi Publishers, 1996.
This beautifully photographed book gives a comprehensive account of the emergence of water puppetry guilds, the illusions created by a stage made of water, puppet characters and traditional stories they enact.
Chong, Denise. The Girl in the Picture: the Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, & the Vietnam War. New York, NY: Penguin USA, 2001.
The "picture" is the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a naked Vietnamese girl, Kim Phuc, aflame with burning napalm. When the war ended, Kim became a reluctant propaganda tool for the Communist government, even as her family was reduced to dire poverty when the state took over her mother's noodle shop. Eventually Kim fled to Canada. Kim's biography doubles as a fascinating social history of Vietnam during and after the war. Audio cassettes also available.
Elliot, Duong Van Mai. The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1996.
This combination of memoir and family history shows the Vietnamese "as they saw themselves as the central players in their own history."
Elliot, Duong Van Mai. The Sacred Willow: Four Generations of Life in a Vietnamese Family, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Vietnamese view of the French & American wars from an upper class family with members on all sides (one an official in French government, author married an American, etc.). "This is a beautiful and utterly absorbing work, a book of extraordinary emotional power that is also a major contribution to historical understanding" (Library Journal).
Hai, Hue-Tam Ho, ed. The Country of Memory: Remaking the Past in Late Socialist Vietnam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press , 2001.
Inspired by the experiences of Vietnamese veterans, artists, authorities, and ordinary peasants, these essays examine a society undergoing a rapid and traumatic shift in politics and economic structure. Each chapter considers specific aspects of Vietnamese culture and society, such as art history, commemorative rituals and literature, gender, and tourism.
Hung, Luu, , Chu Thai Son and Dang Nghiem Van. Ethnic Minorities in Vietnam. Hanoi, Vietnam: The Gioi Publishers, 1993.
Each group is described by population, language, area of habitation, life style, family relationships and spiritual life. An ethno-linguistical map of Vietnam (10" by 15") is included.
Huy, Nguyen Van. The Cultural Mosaic of Ethnic Groups in Vietnam. Hanoi, Vietnam: Education Publishing House, 2001.
Written in the form of a glossary, this book provides comprehensive information on the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam and explains the various threads within Vietnamese culture including language systems, economic activities, and traditional customs.
Jamieson, Neil L. Understanding Vietnam. Berkely and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1995.
Overview of 20th-century Vietnam drawing on poems, folktales, essays, novels, newspaper articles and personal observations. Rave reviews for perspective, breadth and readability. 1994 ALA Outstanding Academic book.
Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1984.
Provides a comprehensive look at both sides of the Vietnam War through a collection of personal tales.
Kleinen, John, ed. Vietnamese Society in Transition: The Daily Politics of Reform and Change. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis Publishers, 2001.
This bilingual publication is a series of essays by academics from various disciplines and covers topics such as agricultural engineering, economic development, religion, education, and gender in colonial and post-colonial Vietnam.
Mahoney,Philip. From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath, New York, NY: Scribner, 1998.
An anthology of poems by Americans and Vietnamese, adults and children, and combatants and protestors. Arranged in a chronological format that will provide the reader with a panorama of the war.
Malarney, Shaun Kingsley. Culture, Ritual and Revolution in Vietnam. Surrey, England: Curzon Press, 1999.
This is a recently published monograph by an associate professor of cultural anthropology at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, who has written on a variety of topics including transformations of wedding and funeral practices, local politics, commerce and entrepreneurship.
Nguyen, Trieu San. A Vietnamese Family Chronicle: Twelve Generations on the Banks of the Hat River. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1991.
Ninh, Bao and Frank Palmos. The Sorrow of War. New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.
Quasi-autobiographical story of a North Vietnamese infantryman trying to exorcise memories of the war by writing about it. Although the writing style is at times confusing and chaotic, reviewers felt its raggedness aptly evokes the narrator's view of a dangerous and unpredictable world. On 'best of' lists.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 1999.
Finalist for Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award. Series of short stories by a veteran. Described as having a hallucinatory feeling, combining memoir, novel, and short story collection. On several Amazon reader 'best of' lists.
Phamm Andrew. Catfish and Mandala. New York, NY: Picador, 2000.
Memoir of a Vietnamese-American's five-month bicycle tour of Vietnam, including encounters with gangsters, drunken soldiers, and corrupt bureaucrats ("nitwits in flip-flops"). Won two writing awards, plus NY Times Notable Book of Year; rave reviews from Amazon readers.
SarDesai, D.R. Vietnam: The Struggle for National Identity. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992.
Taylor, Keith W. The Birth of Vietnam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983.
This book is about Vietnam from the beginning of recorded history in the third century b.c. to the tenth century when Vietnam became an independent kingdom.
Taylor, Philip. Fragments of the Present: Searching for Modernity in Vietnam's South. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.
Explores how the southern region of Vietnam was integrated politically and conceptually into the unified nation.
Tran, Barbara, Monique T.D. Truong, and Luu Truong Khoi eds. Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry & Prose. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1998.
A collection of poetry, fiction, and experimental forms by contemporary Vietnamese-American writers.
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, 1998.
A sampling of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology's collection is captured in this catalog that was published for the opening of the museum.
Copyright © 2003 American Museum of Natural History. All rights reserved.
More About This Resource...
This list of recommended books builds on the museum's Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind & Spirit exhibition. There are:
- six books for students ages seven and up, including folk tales and proverbs
- two memoirs about the Vietnam War that are well-suited for high school students
- more than 20 titles for adults, ranging from 18th-century poetry and 20th-century family histories to a catalog of Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups