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This work covers Vietnamese culture from its origins to the present. Vietnamese culture is heterogeneous, reflecting the country's shifting geography and multiple peoples over the past two thousand years. It has maintained its independent nature while at the same time interacting closely with China and other Southeast Asian communities.

The book is divided into seven parts: Vietnamese origins, the Buddhist era, the Confucian era, the Trinh-Nguyen and Tay Son eras, the Nguyen dynasty, the Colonial era, and the era of independence. Each part includes descriptions of the land, society, culture, religion, philosophy, and economy of Vietnam, as well as patterns of governance adopted from China and elsewhere. Most of the selections are Vietnamese in origin, with some descriptions of the country by outsiders.

Each part, chapter, and selection is prefaced by introductory comments, and there are chronological tables and pronunciation guides.

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