Culture and Customs of Vietnam

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Vietnam is increasingly opening up to the West, and society is in flux between tradition and modernity, and capitalism and socialism. Americans have distanced themselves from the Vietnam War now, and Culture and Customs of Vietnam fills a need to learn about the country, which has also evolved. Readers will find that this is the only general book on Vietnamese culture in English written by specialists. McLeod and Nguyen, historians specializing in Vietnam engagingly show the various forces of Vietnamese culture in narrative chapters on the land, people, and language; history and institutions; thought and religion; literature; art and architecture; cuisine; family, marriage, gender, and youth culture; festivals and leisure activities, and performing arts.

Culture and Customs of Vietnam is a comprehensive, one-stop source, providing the most useful and intriguing information for students and general readers. Some of the highlights include the discussion of the Chinese influence in writing, thought, and religion; eating habits; the changing family; and water puppetry. A chronology, glossary, and numerous photos complement the text.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Finding postwar material is not always easy as our nation is still uncertain about uncovering wounds we'd rather forget, but we find this book to be an essential part of a high school's collection on South East Asia."


Blanche Woolls & David Loertscher (

"…this book includes virtually everything that a student looking for information on Vietnam is likely to need."



"[C]oncise and excellent guide to Vietnamese culture, both past and present….this work is a valuable and unique contribution to popular Vietnamese studies."


American Reference Books Annual

The latest volume in the Culture and Customs of Asia series, this book is a serviceable and detailed introduction to Vietnam and its people. The authors state that their goal is to provide a book for the nonspecialist that will be of value to anyone from high school to college who might be interested in the subject. They begin by emphasizing the hybrid nature of Vietnamese culture. Historically the region has been a crossroads, heavily influenced by a wide range of ethnic, national, and religious groups. Confucian, Buddhist, animist, Chinese, Catholic, Khmer, French, Communist, and even Muslim beliefs have played a significant role in the formation of modern Vietnam. Although United States involvement in what the authors call the Second Indochina War is given part of a chapter, the book, refreshingly, devotes most of its pages to other, less widely covered topics. Throughout the chapter on the history of this country, it should be noted that the authors maintain a tone that appears to be free from partisanship, giving equal space, for example, to the strengths and weakness of both the Communists and the U.S.-backed Republic of Vietnam government. More space, however, is devoted to such topics as the language, literature, religion, art, cuisine, family structures, attitudes toward gender, contemporary youth culture, festivals, and favorite leisure activities of Vietnam. Although the writing style is somewhat dry, this book includes virtually everything that a student looking for information on Vietnam is likely to need. Glossary. Index. Photos. Maps. Biblio. Chronology. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; SeniorHigh, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2001, Greenwood, 219p. PLB $45. Ages 15 to Adult. Reviewer: Michael Levy SOURCE: VOYA, February 2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
Two historians of Vietnam (McLeod at the U. of Delaware, Dieu at Temple U.) have written a knowledgeable, up-to-date, and clearly organized survey of Vietnamese civilization that will be useful for the undergraduate classroom. Following a classic format, the study introduces the country's geography, language, and peoples then delves into the various aspects of its culture, including history, philosophy, religion, literature, art and architecture, cuisine, family, youth culture, gender, festivals, and performing arts. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313361135
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2001
  • Series: Culture and Customs of Asia Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 222
  • Sales rank: 1,031,771
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK W. MCLEOD is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware.

NGUYEN THI DIEU, born in Vietnam, is Associate Professor of History at Temple University.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
1 Land, People, and Language 1
2 History and Institutions 15
3 Thought and Religion 43
4 Literature 65
5 Art and Architecture 95
6 Cuisine 117
7 Family, Gender, and Youth Culture 135
8 Festivals and Leisure Activities 153
9 Performing Arts 169
Glossary 183
Selected Bibliography 187
Index 189
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