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The Tay Son Uprising: Society and Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century Vietnam (Southeast Asia--Politics, Meaning, Memory) Hardcover – September 11, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"George Dutton has written the first detailed Western-language study of the Tây Sơn movement, which permanently altered Vietnam’s political trajectory. But in so doing, he also provides a sensitive social and cultural analysis of the pre-1800 Vietnamese-speaking world as a whole, and indeed one of the most detailed descriptions of any late 18th-century society in Southeast Asia." —Victor Lieberman, University of Michigan

"It is difficult to overstate the significance of George Dutton’s terrific new book. The Tây Sơn Uprising represents the first serious western-language account of the intricate sequence of political developments that define the Tây Sơn era and that arguably mark the onset of modernity in Vietnam. In addition to providing a vividly evocative narrative of the complex political history of the period, Dutton offers lucid and judicious interpretations of the origins, evolution and downfall of the uprising and of its consequences for a wide range of social groups, political forces and ethnic communities. The level of research and historical craftsmanship is superb, and Dutton’s frequent reflections on relevant theoretical and historiographical issues make for fascinating reading. In short, this is a stunning accomplishment and a major contribution to the study of Vietnamese history and historiography." —Peter Zinoman, University of California, Berkeley

About the Author

George Dutton is assistant professor in the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and chair of the UCLA Interdepartmental Program in Southeast Asian Studies.

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Product Details

  • Series: Southeast Asia--Politics, Meaning, Memory
  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press (September 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824829840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824829841
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am an Associate Professor at UCLA in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, where I teach courses on Vietnamese history and aspects of Southeast Asian societies and cultures. I am also Director of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies. My research covers numerous elements of Vietnamese history between the middle of the eighteenth century and the 1930. I have written about topics ranging from poetry to military technology to newspaper culture. I am particularly interested in topics of society and culture, notably questions of modernization, changing language, and religious practices. I am currently working on a biography of Philiphe Binh, an 18th-century Vietnamese priest who travelled to Lisbon on behalf of his fellow Catholics in 1796.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W.J. O'Malley on August 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Tay Son Uprising is an excellent work, yet it's also dissatisfying. Excellent because George Dutton has done what has long been needed: put together a detailed, scholarly study of Vietnam in the late Eighteenth Century. And particularly excellent because, making extensive use of Vietnamese historical treatments and of contemporary documents from Catholic missionaries resident in Vietnam, he is able to dispel two Vietnamese myths about the Tay Son: the Nineteenth Century court-inspired myth that the three brothers who led a revolt that overturned the centuries-long arrangement of government in Vietnam (whereby one family reigned and another two ruled) were little more than usurper robber tyrants, and the Twentieth Century communist-inspired myth that the the brothers were peasant-freeing revolutionaries somehow adumbrating the socialist changes to come. But dissatisfying because Dutton doesn't actually replace those myths with anything solid. His analysis of the movement's leaders, of the political world in which they acted, of their methods, and of their links with their wide range of supporters leads to the conclusion that they did whatever they had to do, and they did it --and got away with it for a quarter of a century -- because they could. So in essence they were simply pragmatists. Good ones. But just pragmatists. Now, this may be all right for the Twenty-First Century . But it's awfully flat for the Eighteenth Century, where getting deeper into the minds of the Tay Son brothers and of the tens of thousands who fought, and died, for them ought to reveal something more meaningful than "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Minh H. Tran on October 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For those of you that are unfamiliar with George Dutton's work, he is one of the few Westerner scholars on archaic Vietnamese texts. Although I am not his student, I am familiar with many of his work, including the drolly yet whimsical "Ly Toet in the City" before its publication.

This book itself takes the role of the peasant of 18th century Dai Viet and plays on chaotic social history. Dutton utilized both Western and Sino-script sources to fathom the vicissitude of the central region. The eventual expansion of the conflict was already in development over the past two centuries in its political history.

What makes this book a valuable text is that it is the first of its kind (in Western language) to address the volatile environment of the 18th century Viet Nam. It helps to understand the many diverse facets of Vietnamese society and the separation of the three Vietnamese regions, which need more exploration. However, it is not the purpose of this book to study the anthropological aspects of the Vietnamese society, only the historical characteristic.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Fold Me Up Scotty on August 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Tay Son Uprising," is deeply informative. It covers not only what happened but also why it happened and who was affected. "The Tay Son Uprising," then, is a must have book for students of Vietnamese history. It belongs in the arsenal of great books on the history of Vietnam.
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