Book Description: This book includes details from the Pentagon Papers about Ho Chi Minh to provide background context for a selection of his collected works on peace, democracy and gender equality. The selected works come from the Ho Chi Minh Collection, written in the original Vietnamese language from the Vietnam National Political Publishing House. This collection goes beyond the context of the wars in Vietnam to include Ho Chi Minh’s views on peace and national development. It includes:
* 25 messages from Ho Chi Minh to American and other world leaders from 1919 to 1969 including a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1966;
* 25 letters/articles on peace, including a letter sent to Pope Paul VI and Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling;
* 25 letters/articles on democracy including a letter to Lester Pearson in 1955; and
* 25 letters/articles on gender equality including letters to French and American women.
Publication date: August 2018
Table of Contents
1. Brief Facts about Ho Chi Minh’s Life and Work
2. Ho Chi Minh’s Messages to the United States, Other Major Powers, and the United Nations
3. Selected Works on Peace
4. Selected Works on Democracy
5. Selected Works on Gender Equality
About the Author
Dr. Dai Trang Nguyen holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Concordia University, a master’s degree in economics and a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies and Asian research, both from the University of British Columbia. She conducted postdoctoral research at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and taught political science, women’s studies and Asia-Pacific studies at the University of Toronto. Dr. Nguyen is currently Chair of Canada-ASEAN Initiatives at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University and a college professor in Toronto.
“The beauty of this book is the strong sense of universalistic values anchored in “good” nationalism as embodied in the figure of Ho Chi Minh. My theoretical input came from Benedict Anderson’s thought about nationalism as encouraging good, selfless behavior. See: Benedict Anderson, ‘The Goodness of Nations,’ in Nation and Religion: Perspectives on Europe and Asia, edited by Peter van der Veer and Hartmut Lehmann (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).
It was Anderson too who pointed out (in Imagined Communities) that “since WWII every successful revolution has defined itself in national terms, such as the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” and as such we can understand how one revolutionary Marxist regime could wage war against another. This is insightful especially to problematize the perspective that Vietnam or China was “defending socialism / communism.”
This book too seeks to revise the American perspective/history on Vietnam. “The fall of Saigon” is a very American (anti-Ho Chi Minh) perspective. From our regional perspective, in the context of war against imperialism, it was not the fall of Saigon. Instead it was a “unification of Vietnam.” A national framework makes more sense than the idea of “defending communism.”
Finally, this book shows the modernity of Ho Chi Minh’s nationalism (in the manner of Anderson’s goodness of nations), that his thoughts and values could be shared globally. I was bringing up regionalism, as Ho Chi Minh was probably already thinking about inter-Asia cooperation to secure independence (perhaps even before the Asia Africa Conference in 1955). Uncle Ho (Paman Ho) was/is well respected in Indonesia. The small Indonesian book that I showed at the book launch (Ho Chi Minh and Sukarno) is just an indication of this.”
– Abidin Kusno, York University
“Dr. Dai Trang Nguyen’s third book on Ho Chi Minh is a labour of love that spanned over 20 years and 25 visits to Vietnam. As an immigrant from Vietnam to Canada, Dr. Nguyen learned early on that there were many myths and inaccuracies surrounding the legend of Ho Chi Minh in her new home. She sought to bring clarity to a leader whom she recognized and knew as a beloved hero, intellectual, and morally upright freedom fighter.
In her latest book, “Ho Chi Minh: Selected Works on Peace, Democracy and Gender Equality”, Dr. Nguyen pours over a multitude of sources to find relevant letters, published articles and more, written by Ho Chi Minh. During her research, Dr. Nguyen had to pour through hundreds of articles in over 15 volumes of collected works of Ho Chi Minh that were approximately 700 pages each, various archives, letters to world leaders, Pentagon Papers, microfiche, Internet sources and more.
About half of the articles that Dr. Nguyen found were translated into English by her. Her book is also available in three languages: English, Vietnamese and also French.
The three things that Dr. Nguyen highlights in this book are as the title suggests: Peace, Democracy, and Gender Equality. The key to Ho Chi Minh’s love of democracy was that of the universal right to education. Even to this day, Vietnam continues to be a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world (at 97%).
His understanding of democracy was ironically informed by so much of the American and French Revolutions and even in his opening address to the Vietnamese people after independence in 1945, he cited “for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.“
According to Dr. Nguyen, Ho Chi Minh was a true feminist, a male leader who passionately spoke out about women’s social and economic status on a global and local level. In his own leadership, Ho Chi Minh promoted women’s leadership while also advocating for men to treat women better in the domestic sphere. He knew that women’s advancement in society directly depended on how they were treated domestically.
In this book, Dr. Nguyen has certainly achieved her intention to clarify some of the misinformed assumptions about Ho Chi Minh and his efforts to bring democracy free of colonial rule to Vietnam.”
– Anita Agrawal, Former President, Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto