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Vietnam: Rising Dragon

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  400 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Yale University Press
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May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very informative. I started the book before my two week journey to Vietnam, and read it during and on the return from the trip. What I read reflected what I saw and experienced in the country, rounding out my experience and filling in a lot of blanks. Examples that stand out are the environtmental destruction of Vietnam's forests, wildlife, eco-systems, landscapes (see Chapter 8, "See it before it's gone"), and the chapter on US-Vietnamese relations post-American war in Vietnam (Chapter 9, "Enem ...more
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vietnam
Amzing book. I am native Vietnamese and this book absolutely blows my mind!! The author goes into depth exploring topics that are censored in Vietnam.

Just how the author can gather so much knowledge about Vietnam during his short stay is beyond me. I feel ashamed that know less about my country that he does, to be honest.

Definitely a must-read if you want to have a clear idea of what Vietnam is like today.
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very readable, journalistic tone, well-cited, diverse sources. I wish it had more history and more helpful sub-sections, but then again it's not an academic text.
David Sasaki
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I probably started reading this book like most others -- because I was traveling to Vietnam for a month and wanted to better understand the country and its rapid pace of change. I read an excerpt of the first chapter in the Wall Street Journal, and knew it was the right book for me:

The image of Vietnam we foreigners seek is a close-cropped study in 'otherness'. Zoom out from the girl in the conical hat and the newly erected pylon intrudes on the view. Turn away from the buffalo boy and the scene
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this before and during my trip to Vietnam. It seems like there is a ton of literature about Vietnam during the war, but a lack of information about modern Vietnam, so it was nice to find a really engaging book that covered so many aspects of life in Vietnam today, from its economy and political system to its culture. I noticed so many things I read about as I was traveling through the country, like the environmental destruction in Halong Bay, and distinctions between the North and the Sou ...more
Emily Turner
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia
Really interesting overview of Vietnam by a BBC reporter/ex-pat. I particularly enjoyed the political commentary. Vietnam is something of an anomaly in the way it's capitalist market functions under Communism.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this while travelling through Viet Nam. Was a fantastic oversight of the current state of the country. It helped make sense of what I was witnessing first hand. Well written too. Definitely recommend if you are going to Viet Nam, or just interested in the country.
Deborah Ideiosepius
Sep 27, 2017 marked it as unfinished
Library book; got the chance to skim it but not actually read it properly. The economic background and street culture seemed interesting and relevant. Would read properly, given a chance.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s an excitement and energy to Vietnam that's palpable — you feel it the moment you step out of the airport. With 60 percent of Vietnam's population under 30 and 85 percent under 40, it’s a vibrant, pulsating society. It’s the kind of place where you can see big changes in just a few years and it's been fun to watch the development of an emerging economy. In the seven years between my first and second visits, the differences are unmistakable. One thing I've noticed — and the book touches on ...more
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm an expat living and working in HCMC. I arrived here almost two years ago, but recently admitted to myself that I actually didn't know very much about this country.

Sure, there's plenty of received wisdom floating round the expat and westernised-local circles, but it's often hard to work out how much of this is just intuitive-sounding fluff that gets repeatedly parroted because it seems to make sense, or how much is just empty platitude.

This realisation inspired me to make a greater effort to
Khang Nguyen
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Paint a more political picture of the country rather than the country as a whole. Chapters of economy were served as proxy to illustrate change in ideologies and approaches of the party rather than focusing on the economy itself. Slightly different from my initial intention to read more about Vietnam economy, but I blame Google for that. In overall, an interesting read nevertheless, covering facts and perspectives fresh even for a Vietnamese like myself.
Derek Brookmeyer
One of 3 books I read during a trip to Vietnam. It read more like a text book at times and there were parts that I glazed over during reading like parts on the economy and certain specific political events. Overall it gave me a thorough overview of the modernization of Vietnam since the war and helped me understand why Vietnam and US became allies again and how they became one of the fastest growing economies and the world.
Hieu Nguyen
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Informative book about Vietnam when you wanna know Vietnam from different perspective.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A pleasant surprise to say the least and despite an age of ten years, it is still very much a worthwhile book to read. If I were to sum up this book, it would be this line; "Vietnam, it is not what you think it is". Every chapter the book goes into detail on a specific topic ranging from politics, economics, youth-culture, environmental problems and brewing conflicts divided each time in a mixed set of individuals, structures and expectations. I also must admit that every chapter and sub part of ...more
Marcel Patulacci
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics, asia, vietnam
One of the sole book about modern Vietnam. Indeed, most of the literature about this country stops on the 30th of April 1975 with the fall of Saigon, however things have kept going on until today. Vietnam is nowadays at a crossroad of its history: will it turn to an economical tiger or will it be one more southeast asian deception ? This book does not provide the answer to this question, but sum up all what have been done this the launching of the Doi Moi policy. The positive aspects, as the neg ...more
Kasey Rackowitz
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It's so refreshing reading a book about this Vietnam, not the Vietnam War Vietnam. Hayton talks about various issues including ethnic minorities, dissidents and environmental problems. The best part was the fact that it talked about so many places and events that I've experienced in Vietnam itself. Streets and the way shops are set up were explained in this book. The way he writes, incorporating his and the locals' stories makes this non-fiction book pleasant to read. The only thing that you hav ...more
Trung Nguyen Dang
Jan 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Despite the promising title, the book is depressing as it covers all the negative aspects of the country without covering in details any single positive aspect. The negative aspects range from politics, freedom of speech, notorious internal security, bribery, pollution, illegal trade of exotic animals. The extremeness of the views may be attributed to the author's expulsion from the country. Some of the view is pure speculation such as John McCain's account of the friendly treatment in Hoa Lo pr ...more
Kenghis Khan
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This engagingly written, fast-paced, yet remarkable journalistic piece should be the default go-to get started on understanding contemporary Vietnam. Hayton is a born story teller, covering what would be incredibly mundane topics (sanitation policy in a provincial park for instance) with an incredible flair for drama. The book has a human angle, but the main protagonist is an anachronistic institution - the Vietnamese Communist Party. Hayton understands, in a way few westerners do, the predicame ...more
Connor Swenson
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Really enjoyed this overview of modern Vietnam and all the forces shaping this 'country on the move' as it heads into the 21st century. A great book to complement your travels in the country and a nice change of pace and outlook from the typical American/Vietnam war books that many foreigners use to understand the complexity of Vietnam.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good read with great insight on political and cultural peculiarities of Vietnam. Just way too focused on Hanoi, the capital. Quite obvious the author pieced together many news reports into a book. It works for the most part, but would have liked to see more exploration of the other regions and customs. That said, a wonderful portrayal of what life is like in present-day Vietnam as a local. There is no way any foreigner could pick any of this up without a deep interest in the welfare of the natio ...more
Barry Groves
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Written by a long-time BBC correspondent, this book chronicles the current political, social, economic, environmental and religious situation. Although somewhat dated being published in 2009, it provides a rich discussion of how Communism has endured alongside a more liberal market economy. I read this book in preparation for work and holiday in Vietnam, and look forward to seeing the country through a more complex prism of multiple perspectives, histories and analyses.
Florence May
Sep 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was interested in reading this book as we are hosting a Vietnamese exchange student this year. Exploring the other reviews makes me wonder if I read the same book. I was interested to learn more about the evolution of Vietnam since the 60's-70's war; however, the book seemed more like a litany from an author with an ax-to-grind. I gave up half way through the book.
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, asia
Amazing book on Vietnam. Read it during a month long trip to the country, and it did change the way you look at things while you're there.

I would recommend this one to everyone who's planning a trip to Vietnam, it will surely open your eyes and shed some light on the inner workings of this great country and it's people.
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very detailed insights into how and why Vietnam is the country it is. I would recommend it for someone visiting Vietnam or interested in the Southeast Asia region, but some of the facts and research can make it a dry read.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Thorough exploration of Vietnam in the last 20 years. Refreshing to read an account of Vietnam with only minimal emphasis on the American War. I definitely recognised the Vietnam I visited, and this book gave me a much clearer understanding of issues I had only guessed at while I was there.
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting and informative account of how Vietnamese people live today.

Notably not a book about war or the tourism topics (rice paddies, beaches, temples), though those are covered. The book has a lot of references, and follow up books.
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Good behind the scenes info on a country where I'll probably only have a tourist experience. Hayton is a good writer, I like his informative style, but the subject matter for me, even as an interested traveler, is somewhat dry.
Julian Haigh
May 31, 2013 rated it liked it
A foreign journalist banned from Vietnam writes his overview of present Vietnam with blemishes. Interesting account - the focus on the modern means having a good appreciation of history will lend more color to its pages.
Nov 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great read during my travels in Vietnam, gave me insight into the culture that I would not have gathered otherwise
Bettina Schaer
Aug 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting insight into Vietnams political structures but a bit one-sided and whiny.
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Bill Hayton is a longtime reporter with BBC News, specializing in contemporary Asia. He has also written for The Economist, the South China Morning Post, and the National Interest.
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