The list author says: "Vietnam is a complex country, whose intertwined histories with China, France, the United States, and Russia make it one of the world's most intriguing--and misunderstood--places. This diverse list includes just a few of the books that gave me a greater understanding of the country I now consider my second home."
"Although the majority of this book is set in France, the story is a tribute to Vietnam in the 1930s. The Vietnamese protagonist's loneliness and inability to communicate with those around him serve as metaphors for the alienation of the Vietnamese living in their own country under French rule. There are scenes in "The Book of Salt" that will break your heart."
"The quiet dignity of this book makes it so compelling. Sachs is not the typical expat blustering her way through a foreign culture. Her respect for Vietnam is substantial, even during times of unhappiness. Turning the table even further is her love affair with a Vietnamese man. This relationship forges her bond with the country while at the same time reminding her that it can never be her home."
"Even if author Ann Le wasn't a dear friend and photographer Julie Fay wasn't my sister, I would recommend this book. To understand Southern California's Little Saigon--the largest Vietnamese population outside Vietnam--is to understand the consequences of war and the power of food to keep a community alive, not only physically, but also spiritually."
"There are many terrific book's about America's involvement in Vietnam, including Stanley Karnow's "Vietnam: A History" and Frances Fitzgerald's "Fire in the Lake," but this book about the early days of the war and the correspondent's who covered it helped me understand the foundation upon which the war was built. It's accessible, a good introduction before tackling the heavier stuff."
"No booklist about Vietnam would be complete without at least one work by Duong Thu Huong. In this novel, I found the role of food compelling: how it marked individuals in a Communist society, how it was hoarded, celebrated, reviled, and coveted. By using the stuff of daily life, Duong reveals the political situation in North Vietnam from the 1950s through the 1980s."
"In the way that Marguerite Duras captures the downfall of the French in "The Sea Wall," Greene captures the downfall of the Americans in "The Quiet American." The irony is that he does this by setting the book in the days when America was just becoming involved in Vietnam. I consider this one of Greene's subtlest, most insightful novels."
"With so many books about the 19th- and 20th-century in Vietnam from western perspectives, this book provides much-needed balance. It explores the mandarin culture that helped feed French rule, and the Vietnamese revolutionaries who overthrew the French. Elliott's family contained French and Communist sympathizers, and she shows both sides from a personal perspective."
"Track this book down and buy it. The story of a woman futilely building a wall to prevent the sea from flooding her plantation is the story of France trying to hold back the flood of the Vietnamese revolution. Forget "The Lover." This is the book Marguerite Duras was meant to write."
"This book gives you a chance to hear from the country's far-flung next generation: the kids born in the U.S., but whose lives are still heavily influenced by the country their parents left behind. Phan unites generations and countries--while at the same time revealing their deep divides--in this collection of stories."
"Having lived in Vietnam for 4 years, I traveled back for a 5-week culinary tour that included encounters with chefs, restaurant owners, farmers, fishermen, market sellers and more. This books explores the history and culture of Vietnam through its cuisine."