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Recommended books about Vietnam

  1. Insight Guide Vietnam

Helen West (Editor), Scott Rutherford (Editor)

2005, PAPER, 381 PAGES

A highly recommended guide to Vietnamese history, culture and popular destinations, featuring essays, informative maps and photographs.

  1. Lonely Planet – Vietnam Travel Guide

Nick Ray , Regis St. Louis , Peter Dragicevich

2007, PAPER, 540 PAGES

Want cities? Slurp down steaming pho in a street stall, toff up in a tailored suit, negotiate head-on traffic in a flimsy cyclo. Want nature? Get your fill of green in endless rice paddies, cool down in the mountains, laze on South China beaches. Want the best on Vietnam? Get yourself this guide.

  1. Understanding Vietnam

Neil Jamieson

1995, PAPER, 428 PAGES

Originally conceived as a book on Vietnamese literature, this became a more ambitious project: a volume on understanding Vietnamese culture and society. It ranges over enormous territory, covering political and social history, village life, literature and structural renewal in the 1990s.

  1. Descending the Dragon, My Journey Down the Coast of Vietnam

Jon Bowermaster

2008, PAPER, 176 PAGES

In this handsome, colorful travelogue, writer Jon Bowermaster and travel photographer Rob Howard team up to reveal Vietnam’s vibrant edge.

  1. Vietnam, A Traveler’s Literary Companion

John Balaban, Nguyen Qui Doc

1966, PAPER, 239 PAGES

Set in Saigon, Hanoi and the countryside, the 17 contemporary stories in this collection represent both the north and south. The editors have intentionally avoided overtly political stories in favour of modern fiction that communicates the spirit and nature of this ancient land.

  1. Vietnam, Spirits of the Earth

Frances FitzGerald, Mary Cross


A handsome, informative portrait with 100 colour photographs and essays on contemporary life—a collaboration between journalist FitzGerald (Fire in the Lake) and photographer Mary Cross.

  1. Lonely Planet World Food Vietnam

Richard Sterling

2000, PAPER, 240 PAGES

A compact guide to the history, culture and traditions of food and drink in Vietnam, including an excellent survey of common ingredients, a culinary dictionary, and guide to etiquette.

  1. Vietnam Today: A Guide to a Nation at a Crossroads

Mark Ashwill, Thai Ngoc Diep

2004, PAPER, 188 PAGES

A practical guide to the politics, culture and getting along in contemporary Vietnam.

  1. Vietnam Now, A Reporter Returns

David Lamb

2003, PAPER, 288 PAGES

An insightful portrait of contemporary Vietnam by an experienced reporter (The Africans, The Arabs). The author interweaves stories of Vietnam today with his own experiences and memories as a young reporter for UPI during the war. Lamb, who reported from Vietnam in 1968, returned in 1997 as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times.

  1. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and the Americans in Vietnam

Neil Sheehan

1989, PAPER, 861 PAGES

A political history of the war as seen through the story of one of its soldiers, this prize-winning book is a hard-hitting expose on the failure of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia. Monumental.

  1. A Traveller’s History of Southeast Asia

J.M. Barwise, Nicholas J. White

2002, PAPER, 352 PAGES

A compact history of the region, including the Khmer and other ancient kingdoms that produced Borobudor, Angkor and other architectural marvels.

  1. Dispatches, Michael Herr

1991, PAPER, 260 PAGES

Journalist Michael Herr looks back at his experience as a war correspondent in Vietnam. More a collection of thoughts, stories and impressions than a straight-forward memoir, the book is a visceral account of the experience of war and its effect on the men who fight in it.

  1. Vietnam, A History

Stanley Karnow

1997, PAPER, 768 PAGES

This blockbuster, popular book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author is history at its best: masterfully researched, well written and comprehensive.

  1. Ho Chi Minh, A Life

William Duiker

2001, PAPER, 695 PAGES

Dissident, revolutionary, communist, Ho Chi Minh returned from exile to lead North Vietnam’s defiant break with colonial France. Duiker charts Ho Chi Minh’s long march from son of a scholar in the rural provinces, to idealist student in heady 1920s Paris, to determined revolutionary.

  1. Catfish and Mandala:A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

Andrew X. Pham

2000, PAPER, 344 PAGES

Much more than a road trip, this book combines the author’s family history with his many and often-gritty adventures by bicycle through foreign lands (including Mexico, Japan and, notably, Vietnam).

  1. The River’s Tale, A Year on the Mekong

Edward Gargan

2003, PAPER, 352 PAGES

A personal, probing chronicle of a 3,000-mile journey on the river from its source in China through Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia to the Mekong delta in Vietnam.

  1. The Sacred Willow, Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family

Duong Van Mai Elliott

2000, PAPER, 506 PAGES

A vivid family saga, beginning with the author’s great-grandfather, that captures the life and momentous history of Vietnam over the last 100 years.

  1. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

Jay Wurts (Contributor), Le Ly Hayslip

1993, PAPER, 368 PAGES

A moving account of life in a Viet Cong village and the horrors of the war, struggling to survive in the Saigon black market and adjustment to life in the United States with her American husband. Hayslip founded the East Meets West Foundation.

  1. Paradise of the Blind

Duong Thu Huong

1994, PAPER, 270 PAGES

A tale of contemporary life set in the 1980s, this popular Vietnamese novel—one of the few translated into English—captures life in an extended family and the struggle for economic well being in a difficult society.

  1. The Quiet American

Graham Greene

2004, PAPER, 180 PAGES

A classic, this is the most famous western work of fiction on Vietnam. Greene writes of a love triangle between a war correspondent, his Vietnamese consort and an optimistic young American during the last days of French rule.

  1. Up Country

Nelson Demille

2003, PAPER, 880 PAGES,

A Tom Clancy-Style military thriller, rich in historical detail, geography and intrigue. Demille, a Vietnam veteran, follows the fate of his career army protagonist on a trip back to Vietnam in 1997.

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