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A history of Vietnam
on 10 November 2013
This long and detailed saga of 20th century Vietnam follows 3 families, one French, one American and one Vietnamese through decades of that country's turbulent and troubled history. It centres around young American Joseph Sherman from 1925 when he visits French Indo-China for the first time to his last visit at the end of the Vietnam war. As traveller, soldier and reporter he is uniquely placed to reflect the key political, military and social changes and challenges that faced Vietnam as it moved towards independence.
Essentially an adventure story, with the required romance thrown in, this book cannot claim to be great literary fiction. The characters sometimes verge on caricature, the plot is often contrived and the coincidences too frequent, but if you enjoy a complex and compelling tale, but one where you can effortlessly absorb historical fact at the same time, then this one is for you. If you prefer rather more subtle writing, then perhaps not. However, it's certainly informative and enlightening about Vietnam and as such has much to recommend it.