Vietnam: Rising Dragon

In This Review

Vietnam: Rising Dragon
By Bill Hayton
Yale University Press, 2010
272 pp. $30.00
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Hayton, a journalist for the BBC, was expelled from Vietnam in 2007 for his reporting on dissidents. While there, he seems to have figured out how all the gears mesh in this Southeast Asian paradox, where economic dynamism exists alongside political control, corruption alongside discipline, and a youth culture alongside a nanny state. Hayton reports how a network of elite families flourishes symbiotically within a secretive Communist Party apparatus, how a society intoxicated by consumerism is gingerly managed by a panoptic security bureaucracy, and how media workers and censors test one another's limits. According to Hayton, foreign foundations that think they are supporting governance reforms are instead solidifying the "law-based state," a euphemism for one-party rule. Although he doubts the regime can keep control of an increasingly complex society, he does not claim to know when or how change will happen.