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Vietnamese Culture Books for the American Public

Note from Anh Tho: This list of Books on Vietnam is recommended by the website "ADOPT VIETNAM". (Source: We are looking for the Vietnamese version of these items. Please let us have the references (online or ISBN) if you happen to have them. Thank you.

Vietnamese Culture Books

A nice variety of books on Vietnamese culture - present and influences from the past. At least one book on Vietnamese culture is essential reading for anyone traveling to Vietnam or who wishes to know more about Vietnamese culture, practices and customs.
Culture and Customs of Vietnam
by Mark W. McLeod, Nguyen Thi Dieu 

"Written by a husband and wife team, with years of experience in Vietnam and its culture, this well developed text provides a detailed look at most of the major areas of Vietnamese culture and customs. Topic areas covered include Vietnamese history, cultural impacts of war and occupation, religion, literature, architecture, food and cuisine, family culture, festivals, and the arts." (Allison Martin)
Order from Amazon | Read Our Review
Vietnam Today, A Guide To A Nation At A Crossroads
by Mark A. Ashwill and Thai Ngoc Diep

"A unique guide to Vietnamese life and history for anyone who is interested in succeeding in a business or endeavor in modern Vietnam. If you are willing to spend a little time understanding the cultural influences on personal and business interactions in Vietnam, this book will be very helpful in your endeavors in what can be an exciting, and sometimes confusing and frustrating country." (Allison Martin)
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Vietnam, Now
by David Lamb

"Those who are interested in Vietnamese society, and the impact of the past, will find this book to be a treasure trove... Lamb's expertise as a seasoned reporter shines through in this book. Each chapter delves into a facet of present day Vietnamese life, complete with interviews, descriptions, his personal reaction and a detailed analysis." (Allison Martin)
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Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit
by Van Huy Nguyen (Editor), Laurel Kendall

Created by the American Museum of Natural History and the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology based on their terrific collaboration and exhibit for Vietnamese culture.
Order from Amazon (Hardback) || Order from Amazom (Paperback)

Pagodas, Gods and Spirits of Vietnam (Hardcover)
by Ann Helen Unger, Walter Unger

A lovely book with photographs of Vietnamese pagodas and worshippers. Originally printed in German, this lovely book was reissued in English recently.
Order new via Amazon (Out of Print)

Culture Shock! Vietnam
By Claire Ellis
"This book is wonderful--especially for those adopting older children as it gives clues to behavior that is cultural! We highly recommend it!" (Trish Maskew)
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Catfish and Mandala : A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam 
by Andrew X. Pham

"This is a solo bicycle tour of Vietnam and other Pacific rim countries by a young Vietnamese American.  Excellent review in Oregonian newspaper, among others.  Beautiful, lyrical writing." (Linda Cochrane)
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Vietnam in Pictures (Visual Geography Series)
by Stacy Taus-Bolstad

Text and illustrations present detailed information on the geography, history and government, economy, people, cultural life and society of traditional and modern Vietnam.
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Shadows and Wind : A View of Modern Vietnam
by Robert Templer

From the publisher: A powerful and vivid account of Vietnam, one of the most beautiful, ravaged, and misunderstood countries in the world. Here is Hanoi, an increasingly tense and troubled city approaching its millennium but uncertain of its direction. Here are people emerging from a long wilderness of malnutrition, discovering a new lifestyle of leisure and luxury. And everywhere are the anomalies that burst the bubble of optimism: a vastly expensive luxury hotel sitting empty in an unknown town six hours from an international airport; museums crammed with fake exhibits. And there remains the one-party Communist state, still wrapped in secrecy and corruption, and making for an uneasy bedfellow with the rapacious capitalism it now encourages.
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Vietnam : A Traveler's Literary Companion 
by John Balaban and Nguyen Qui Duc 

From the publisher: Vietnamese have been telling stories for thousands of years, in poetry and in song, in Chinese script and then in Vietnamese nom, and more recently, in novels and short stories. These 17 stories, from contemporary Vietnamese writers living in Vietnam and abroad, take the literary traveler to extraordinary places: from the jungle-clad mountain ranges of the North to the mysterious silence of the old capital along the Perfume River.
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Vietnam: An Illustrated History
by Shelton Woods

Pictures, maps and text describe the history of Vietnam.
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Culture Smart! Vietnam
by Geoffrey Murray

Simple guide for travelers or business people on the customs of Vietnam, with recommendations for interacting with Vietnamese people.
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Rice Paddies and Temple Yards: Traditional Music of Vietnam 
By Phong Nguyen and Patricia Shehan Campbell

"A unique resource, a music CD and text book, to make Vietnamese folk music accessible, in a classroom or group teaching setting. Phong Nguyen is a National Heritage fellow with extensive background in traditional Vietnamese music, as a scholar and performer, in the United States and formerly in Vietnam. The CD includes a diverse selection of game songs, love songs, boating songs, poetry and instrumental music. The booklet includes 12 lessons for children, and an overview of Vietamese music and history." (Allison Martin)
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Vietnam: Past and Present
by D. R. Sardesai

The normalization of U.S.-Vietnamese relations, Vietnam's policy of economic liberalization, the role of industrialized nations in the globalization of Vietnam's economy, and Vietnam's growing participation with the Allied countries of the Pacific region. This edition includes a new chapter on the Vietnamese-American community.
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Goddess on the Rise: Pilgrimage and Popular Religion in Vietnam
by Philip Taylor

The shrine of Ba Chua Xu, the Lady of the Realm, is one of most popular religious site in southern Vietnam.
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Hindu-Buddhist Art Of Vietnam : Treasures From Champa
by Emmanuel Guillon

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The Country of Memory; Remaking the Past in Late Socialist Vietnman
by Hue-Tam Ho Tai (Editor)

"Extraodinary book about how Vietnam rebuilds its past -or deals with it- through arts, movies, tourism... etc. A collection of essays by different contributors. Found it incredibly interesting." (Catherine Deluz)
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Understanding Vietnam
by Neil L. Jamieson

"Author Neil Jamieson, who was an American civilian in Vietnam during the War and has spent much time there since, uses Vietnamese poetry to describe the political and social changes that swept the country during the 20th century. This is a scholarly work that endeavors to explain that country's history and social fabric from the Vietnamese perspective." (Rick Martin)
Read Review || Order from Amazon

Asian American Dreams : The Emergence of an American People
by Helen Zia

"This comprehensive introduction to Asian American history will fascinate anyone interested in an historical and sociological survey of events in the United States foreshadowing the present day participation of Asian American people." (Allison Martin)
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Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam 
by Frances Fitzgerald 

"A very complete and erudite book on the Vietnam American war, seen through the American and South Vietnam angle. However, not just a war book, but also a very useful reference book on Vietnam history, philosophy, and culture as the war is explained through these various lenses. In spite of topic and length, it is an incredibly enjoyable book due to quality of research, quality of writing, and sometimes even the chuckle one gets reading some of the most inept aspects of the war. Recommended for anybody who wants to study the Vietnam American war beyond propaganda." (Catherine Deluz)
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A History of Vietnam : From Hong Bang to Tu Duc
by Oscar Chapuis

"This is an extremely detailed history of ancient Vietnam, complete with descriptions of each dynasty, for the person who really wants to dive into Vietnamese history. Vietnam has had a long and turbulent history, and this scholarly work provides an account of the comings and goings of each empire, rivalry and occupation. It is made readable by the fascinating vignettes of the foibles and exemplary tales for each major figure. As Chapuis explains, Asian history should "be approached with intuitive mind rather than analytical spirit." The book begins with the prehistory of Chiana and Vietnam (which he describes as a period of myth and legends) to the historic kindgom of Au Lac and ends with the occupation by France." (Allison Martin)
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YourVietBooks recommends a selection of books and articles on Vietnam and about Vietnam, available partly in English, French, German or Vietnamese. Our qualified and experienced translators can provide translations of e-books or articles on demand. Samples of their work are displayed under 'Comments' of each corresponding posting with the translator's reference. For more information on our services, please contact Mrs. Anh Tho Andres. Email:

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