CHASING THE TIGERS: A Portrait of the New Vietnam by Murray Hiebert

CHASING THE TIGERS: A Portrait of the New Vietnam

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A straightforward reportorial look at Vietnam today, focusing on the nation's recent economic reforms and their impact on the lives of everyday Vietnamese. Canadian foreign correspondent Hiebert headed the Far Eastern Economic Review's Hanoi bureau from 1990 to '94. This book is his summation of the vast changes he saw. In readable journalistic prose, peppered with many interviews and anecdotes, Hiebert reports on virtually every aspect of Vietnam's society and politics. The focus, though, is on the economy and the prospects that Vietnam will join the other Asian economic success stories, the so-called ""tigers"": Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Hiebert predicts that Vietnam will ""blossom into a tiger in the long run,"" because of its ""energy and determination, the Confucian emphasis on education and thrift, as well as the hard work of millions of youthful entrepreneurs, farmers, and workers."" Hiebert also offers brief but meaty assessments of the status of Vietnam's environmental problems, rural poverty, sexual mores, family structure, health care, education, religion, and women's rights and analyzes the nation's foreign relations with China, Cambodia, and the US. Hiebert portrays Vietnam in a generally favorable light--it ""may not be paradise, but at least the government is off the backs of the people,"" he says. But he is no cheerleader, pointing to Vietnam's press censorship, still-strong secret police, and other human rights abuses. To his credit, Hiebert sticks to his subject and, unlike other recent journalistic chroniclers of Vietnam, does not include superfluous, unenlightening accounts of the American war. Hiebert clearly shows that Vietnam, while still not a democracy, has liberalized its economy and opened its society significantly since the oppressive, doctrinaire Marxist rule of 1975-86.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Kodansha