Vietnam: Rising Dragon

The eyes of the West have recently been trained on China and India, but Vietnam is rising fast among its Asian peers. A breathtaking period of social change has seen foreign investment bringing capitalism flooding into its nominally communist society, booming cities swallowing up smaller villages, and the lure of modern living tugging at the traditional networks of family and community. Yet beneath these sweeping developments lurks an authoritarian political system that complicates the nation’s apparent renaissance. In this engaging work, experienced journalist Bill Hayton looks at the costs of change in Vietnam and questions whether this rising Asian power is really heading toward capitalism and democracy.Based on vivid eyewitness accounts and pertinent case studies, Hayton’s book addresses a broad variety of issues in today’s Vietnam, including important shifts in international relations, the growth of civil society, economic developments and challenges, and the nation’s nascent democracy movement as well as its notorious internal security. His analysis of Vietnam’s police state, and its systematic mechanisms of social control, coercion, and surveillance, is fresh and particularly imperative when viewed alongside his portraits of urban and street life, cultural legacies, religion, the media, and the arts. With a firm sense of historical and cultural context, Hayton examines how these issues have emerged and where they will lead Vietnam in the next stage of its development.

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About Dragon Mystic

I fell in love with dragons when I read Tea With the Black Dragon, and never looked back. Not the clunky winged Medieval dragons that ate cows, the graceful Asian dragons that could fly without wings. Later I discovered the elegant Welsh dragons, red and white, as described by R.J. Stewart in his books on the historical Merlin.
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2 Responses to Vietnam: Rising Dragon

  1. David Brown says:

    The best on contemporary Vietnam Considering myself something of an expert on contemporary Vietnam, I thought I might write a book. Then I discovered that Bill Hayton has already written it, and far better than I might have done! Vietnam: Rising Dragon perfectly reports the complex reality of a nation that, having left its legacy of war and economic failure far behind, may — or may not — succeed in its goal of becoming ‘becoming a developed country by 2020.’ Dozens of telling vignettes illuminate Hayton’s critique of Vietnam’s rapid socio-economic progress and the much slower pace of political evolution. The BBC’s former Vietnam correspondent is an expert analyst of the shadowed inner workings of the Vietnamese Communist Party, showing it to be nowhere nearly so monolithic nor effective in enforcing its wishes as is commonly assumed. Hayton deftly exposes the stresses that exposure to global markets and information flows have put on Vietnam’s national life, leaving us wondering — as indeed we should — whether all this will lead to sustainable prosperity or a new cycle of instability. Highly recommended for curious backpackers, teachers, expatriate executives and anyone who’s wondered what happened to Vietnam after it disappeared from the daily newspapers.

  2. Tom H says:

    The most insightful material I’ve read on Vietnam I lived in Vietnam for a year and could never really get my head around the place. A typical Vietnamese news report will consist of articles on various nation building projects, some light finance information and the odd article about an old fisherman or farmer. This book made everything that much clearer. The author was also booted out of the country for his troubles. To read this book is to understand the difficulties that the Vietnamese face in their own country, even though a foreigner living there may never understand, nor even need to understand, these issues to any degree. I made a few friends there and some of the statistics in this book actually made me a bit worried for them. The country has its strengths, but I couldn’t help feel after reading this that something is wrong with the picture. The book ends at a crossroads, much like the country is at now, and I suppose we’ll know within the next ten years what path it’s on.

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