Archive for the Books Category

Vietnamese History Books, First Impressions

Posted in Books, II. History, Opinions, VII. Research with tags , , on August 9, 2010 by Ian Pham

I recently checked out a couple of history books from the school library, one titled A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis, the other was The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger.  The first thing I noticed about Vietnamese history is that very little is written about the country in western literature.  Since the section on Vietnamese history was directly next to the giant wall dedicated to Chinese history, I couldn’t help but feel a little indignant about the lack of books written about this particular topic.  Anyways, I did manage to find these two books which, at first glance, seems like credible sources of information.  I haven’t read the books yet, though I always keep in mind that I should, as the saying goes, “never judge a book by it’s cover.”

Even though I haven’t had the time to read these books all the way through, since they are both pretty lengthy, I managed to look through some chapters of both and get an impression of what they are like.  At first, Oscar Chapuis’s A History of Vietnam seemed like the better choice, but as I read through it more, I quickly noticed the author’s advocation that Vietnam was the offspring of China, which has been proven today as a complete fabrication.  This idea was conveyed in the early chapters, claiming that Shen Nung, the ancestor of Hong Bang, was Chinese.  This book was written in 1995, so I don’t blame the author for believing such ideas.  However, I do notice the author’s carelessness in expressing his conclusions.  This book is much shorter than Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon. At only 216 pages, this book attempts to cover several thousand years of Vietnamese history.  For this reason, some of Chapuis’s ideas seem quite rushed, sounding more regurgitated from other sources than critically analyzed by his own thoughts.  What Oscar Chapuis succeeds in doing however, is to quickly cover many historical events and individuals in a short amount of time, which is useful for a quick read.

Now, let’s take a look at Joseph Buttinger’s The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam. This was written in 1958, a time when the world knew little about the nation of Vietnam.  At a hefty 535 pages, Joseph Buttinger offers great coverage on the history of Vietnam.  The findings expressed by Buttinger are very well thought out and analytical, though his views are debatable at times.  Even though the works are nearly four decades apart, Joseph Buttinger’s writing feels much more eloquent than Oscar Chapuis’s.  Buttinger shares his ideas, but also provides more substantial arguments for his views.  However, one must keep in mind that this book was written more than 50 years ago, so some of his findings have been proven wrong by current research and technology.  Therefore, I must be critical in expressing my concerns in the author’s views in regards to Vietnam’s relationship with China, as well as the findings on the history of ancient Vietnam.  Even so, I must compliment the lengthly research made on this book, and commend the author on his extensive coverage.

Well, those are my first impressions of these books anyway.  The only way to really be sure is if you check them out for yourself.  I will have to look more into these books whenever I can find the time.  If you are interested, these books should be available at your city/public library.  Anyone who wants to learn more about Vietnamese history should give them a shot.  As an independent reader, always remember to be critical of the material, question all of it, and no matter what, don’t believe everything you read.

Happy reading!

Ratings At First Glance

  • A History of Vietnam: From Hong Bang to Tu Duc by Oscar Chapuis: C
  • The Smaller Dragon: A Political History of Vietnam by Joseph Buttinger: B+
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The Contents of “Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization”

Posted in Ancient History, Books, I. News with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by Ian Pham

The English and Vietnamese versions of "Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization." English edition translated by Dr. Joseph M. Vo.

Several weeks ago I announced the publication of the book Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilation.  I then stated that the book is a comprehensive account of Vietnamese history which covers the origins of the Vietnamese people.  However, after aquiring the book, I realized that this literary work is not a comprehensive book based on Vietnamese history through various time periods.  It is actually a book dedicated entirely to the origin of the Vietnamese people.  I finished reading the book just recently and what I learned from this book is literally groundbreaking!

The Author of "Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization," Mr. Du Mien Le Thanh Hoa.

For centuries, even up to present day, most historians believed that Vietnam was a country that found its origins in China, and that Vietnamese civilization was rooted in Chinese civilization.  This however, is a false allegation.  The findings in Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization not only falsifies this claim but also succeeds in explaining how Vietnamese civilization preceeded Chinese civilization.  Le Thanh Hoa, the author of Vietnam, clarifies the fact that the Lac Viet (ancient Vietnamese) were agricultural people with their own civilization and culture while the Chinese at the time were nomadic tribes who lived by hunting and raiding.  The nomadic tribes simply invaded the agricultural people, captured the culture of these people and claimed it as their own.  At the same time, the conquerers also tried to eradicate the Lac Viet, killing and erasing the old histories of the agricultural people in order to maintain their control.  It is for this reason that Vietnamese history has been so fragmented and rare, and why some sections of Chinese history contain so many loop holes and are widely debated among scholars.

Confucius himself admitted that his teachings came from the Viet people.

The authors of Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization not only derive their ideas from western and Vietnamese sources, but also take key ideas from ancient Chinese teachers such as Confucius and the famous historian Sima Qian. One of the most intriguing, not to mention shocking, discoveries made by Le Thanh Hoa’s research is that the thousand year teachings of the great Kong-tzu (Confucius) actually came from the Lac Viet (ancient Vietnamese) nation, and that Confucius actually used the teachings of the Viet people to educate the Chinese people.  Lac Viet was the first civilization of East Asia, independent from China, and older than China.

How revolutionary these findings are is yet to be determined.  For over a thousand years, the belief was that Vietnam was the offspring of China.  This however, has proven to be false.  It was actually the Viet people who gave birth to Chinese civilization.  Whether individuals decide to embrace or reject this discovery, they must respect it.  The facts exist and cannot be erased, not this time.

The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization

Posted in Ancient History, Books, I. News, VII. Research with tags , on May 20, 2010 by Ian Pham

There is a new book out now, titled: Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization. Originally written in Vietnamese (titled “Việt Nam: Suối Nguồn Văn Minh Phương Đông” in Vietnamese), Vietnam was later translated into English by Dr. Joseph M. Vo. As an academic piece of writing, the book answers many questions about Vietnam’s past through extensive academic research and investigation.  Of all the countries in Asia, the historical information on Vietnamese civilization and culture has been the most fragmented and scarce, so a book such as this would provide some much need explanations and answers to the myriad of questions about the history of the Vietnamese people.  This comprehensive book contains explicit information about many different aspects of Vietnamese civilization from various eras, covering even the origin of the Vietnamese people (which dates back to more than 4000 years!).  Currently, only certain bookstores throughout North America sells this important literary work.  However, Vietnam can still be purchased through various online retailers.  Hopefully bookstores and actual retailers sell it soon.