Whitmore ’62 Co-Edits Essential Anthology About Vietnamese History

Book co-edited by John Whitmore '62.

Book co-edited by John Whitmore ’62.

John Whitmore ’62 has co-edited Sources of Vietnamese Tradition (Columbia University Press), a fascinating guide to 2,000 years of Vietnamese history and a comprehensive overview of the society and state of Vietnam. Well-chosen selections deal with key figures, issues, and events, and they create a thematic portrait of the country’s developing territory, politics, culture and relations with neighbors. The volume explores Vietnam’s remarkable independence in the face of Chinese and other external pressures while it recognizes the complexity of the Vietnamese experience over the years.

The anthology begins with selections that cover more than a millennium of Chinese dominance over Vietnam (111 B.C.E.–939 C.E.) and follows with texts that illuminate four centuries of independence ensured by the Ly, Tran and Ho dynasties (1009–1407). The earlier cultivation of Buddhism and Southeast Asian political practices by the monarchy gave way to two centuries of Confucian influence and bureaucratic governance (1407–1600), based on Chinese models, and three centuries of political competition between the north and the south, resolving in the latter’s favor (1600–1885).

The book’s final sections cover the colonial era and the modern age, and selections recount the ravages of war and the creation of a united, independent Vietnam in 1975. Each chapter includes readings that relate to the views, customs, outside influences on, and religious and philosophical beliefs of a rapidly changing people and culture.

Whitmore is a research associate at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Michigan, and a specialist on premodern Vietnamese and Southeast Asian history. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Virginia and the University of California-Los Angeles.

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: dlow@wesleyan.edu