Vietnamese Americans

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by Carl L. Bankston III


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a long, narrow, "S"-shaped country of 127,243 square miles (329,556 square kilometers). It extends about 1,000 miles from southern China southward to the Gulf of Thailand. It is bordered on the west by Laos and Cambodia and on the east by the south China Sea. At the center of the "S," Vietnam is less than 30 miles wide. The northern and southern parts of the country are somewhat wider, with the north reaching a maximum width of 350 miles.

This southeast Asian nation has a population of about 75 million people. The ethnic Vietnamese, who make up nearly 90 percent of the population, are thought to be descendants of peoples who migrated into the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam from southern China. There are also about three million members of mountain tribes, found mainly in the Central Highlands and in the Annamese Cordillera mountain chain in the north; about two million ethnic Chinese, most of whom live in large cities; about 500,000 Khmer, or ethnic Cambodians; and about 50,000 Cham, descendants of a Malayo-Polynesian people who dominated the area that is now southern Vietnam before the arrival of the Vietnamese.

Religions include Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Roman Catholicism, Cao Dai (a mixture of aspects of Roman Catholicism and various Asian religions), Hoa Hao (a Vietnamese offshoot of Buddhism), Islam, Protestantism, and animism. Most Vietnamese practice the mutually compatible religions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. About three million are Catholics, concentrated in the southern part of the country. About one million practice the Cao Dai religion and about one million belong to the Hoa Hao sect. The number of Protestants is small, and they are mostly found among the tribesmen of the mountains, where American and European missionaries were active until recently. Almost all of the Cham are Muslims.

The country's official language is Vietnamese and the capital city is Hanoi. The official flag is red with a large yellow star in the center, but many Vietnamese Americans object to this flag, viewing it as an emblem of the communist government. They identify instead with the flag of former South Vietnam, which is yellow with three horizontal red stripes in the center.


Although the Vietnamese are newcomers to North America, they are heirs to a culture far older than the United States, and even older than any of the national societies of Europe. The first known historical records of the Viets in the Red River Delta of what is now northern Vietnam were written by the Chinese in the second century b.c. Vietnamese archaeologists have traced their civilization back even further, to the Phung-Nguyen culture that existed before 2000 b.c.

While the village constituted the basis of rural Vietnamese folk culture, many of the nation's formal institutions were introduced from the great neighbor to the north, China. Even the name of the country is derived from Chinese: "Viet " is a variant pronunciation of the Chinese word "Yueh ", which designates the "hundred" tribes that populated the southern region of China, and "Nam, " which is the same as "nan " in Chinese and means "south." Vietnam's close but troubled relations with its huge northern neighbor have shaped many of its political and social structures and have, in recent years, played a crucial role in the creation of a refugee crisis.

As the Chinese empire of the Han dynasty extended its control over the area to the south, the Viets accepted Chinese administrative designations for their territory and the local rulers were redefined as prefectural and district officers. Despite some early rebellions against Chinese rule (one in particular was instigated by the Trung sisters, who remain Vietnamese national heroes for their struggles against the Chinese in the first century a.d.), Vietnam was a part of the Chinese empire until the successful war for independence in the tenth century. Despite the adoption of Chinese forms of government, Chinese written characters, and Chinese-style Buddhism, the Vietnamese have continued to be wary of their powerful neighbor.

Until the fifteenth century, the Vietnamese occupied only the northern part of what we now know as Vietnam. The southern portion constituted the empire of the Cham, Champa, and part of the Khmer, or Cambodian, territory. By 1471, however, under the rulers of the Le dynasty (modeled after the Chinese "emperors"), Vietnam succeeded in conquering almost the whole of Champa. This success not only brought the newly enlarged country into conflict with the Khmers, but it also gave the country its present elongated shape, wide at the top and bottom and exceedingly narrow in the middle where the mountains that run down its center approach the sea coast. This geographical feature, often described as two heads and a little body, divided the country into two regions.


While Vietnam's early history was dominated by its struggles with neighboring China, modern Vietnam has been greatly influenced by France. Vietnam's early contacts with Europe were primarily forged through Catholic missionaries, particularly Jesuits, who arrived in 1615, after they had been prohibited from entering Japan. France, as the most powerful of Catholic nations in the seventeenth century, was especially active in supporting these religious endeavors, through the Societe des Missions Etrangeres. Alexandre des Rhodes, a French Jesuit, along with some of his Portuguese colleagues, was instrumental in creating a new system of writing, which was later adopted throughout Vietnam. This form of writing became known as quoc ngu national languageand uses the Latin alphabet to transcribe phonetically the Vietnamese spoken language. This system was adopted throughout Vietnam in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Through the work of missionaries, the French gained influence in Vietnam long before the arrival of a single French soldier or administrator. When a peasant rebellion, known as the Tay-son, reunified the country in 1788 under the rule of a rebel leader who had himself proclaimed emperor, the surviving heir of the southern Nguyen family, Nguyen Anh, sought the assistance of France. Because of the revolution in France, this claimant to the throne received only token French ships and volunteer troops that nonetheless helped him reestablish himself at Saigon in 1789. The French also constructed forts for him and trained his troops, which contributed to Nguyen Anh's success in taking control of the entire country by 1802.

Nguyen Anh's son, the Emperor Minh-mang, facilitated a revival of the Confucian religion to reestablish order in the country and to support his own position as an emperor. The spread of Catholicism presented a danger to the Confucian order in the eyes of Minh-mang, who consequently initiated a policy of persecution against Catholics in 1825.

By the nineteenth century, the French were struggling to catch up to other European countries in the competition for colonies. The French Emperor Napoleon III took up the cause of the Catholics in Vietnam and used their persecution as a pretext for invading the country. His envoys seized Saigon and the three surrounding provinces in 1862. Minh-mang's grandson, Tu-duc, had to choose between opposing a rebellion in the north and effectively fighting the French. In 1863 he officially ceded the three provinces to France and agreed to the establishment of a French protectorate over Vietnamese foreign relations. In the 1880s, following a war between France and China, which still claimed sovereignty over Vietnam, the French extended their control over the rest of Vietnam. They held the southern part, known as Cochinchina, as a colony, and central and northern Vietnamrespectively named Tonkin and Annamas protectorates. The two latter territories were placed under the nominal rules of the emperors of the Nguyen dynasty, whom the French tightly controlled and manipulated.

As in other parts of Southeast Asia, the system of colonial domination created in the late nineteenth century was maintained until the rise of an Asian imperial power, Japan. A variety of Vietnamese nationalist movements had developed in response to French rule. The anti-imperialist stance expressed in Lenin's analysis of colonialism attracted some, including the young man who joined the French Socialist Party in 1920 and later became known by the adopted name of Ho Chi Minh. Following the surrender of France to Japan's ally, Germany, Ho Chi Minh's forces were left as the only effective resistance to Japan in Vietnam.

When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the Communist-dominated nationalist organization called the Viet Minh staged the August Revolution and easily seized power. The last of the French-controlled Vietnamese emperors, Bao-dai, abdicated and Ho Chi Minh declared the independence of Vietnam, proclaiming the creation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, on September 2, 1945. Japanese forces remained in Vietnam, however, and the Allies moved in to disarm them and send them home. China, still under the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai Chek, was given the task of disarming the Japanese in northern Vietnam, while the British were assigned to the territory south of the sixteenth parallel. While the Chinese allowed the Viet Minh to retain control of Hanoi and the north, the British helped the French seize control of the south and reestablish French colonial power. After the British left in January 1946 and the Chinese left in the spring of that same year, the country was again divided into north and south.

At first the French and the new Vietnamese government accepted one another, albeit uneasily, as neither was prepared for open conflict. In March 1946, Ho Chi Minh signed an agreement with the French in which he accepted the deployment of French troops in the north, while France agreed to recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, on the condition that this state would remain part of the Indochinese Federation (including the parts of Vietnam under direct French rule, Cambodia, and Laos) within the French Union. Ho Chi Minh and the French also agreed to hold a popular referendum to decide whether Cochinchina should join Vietnam or remain a French colony.

France was not interested in seeing a truly independent power in Vietnam, and the Viet Minh had no desire to see their country continue under colonial rule. In late 1946 and early 1947, tensions between the two sides erupted into combat and the first Vietnam War began. In February 1947, following the Battle of Hanoi, France reoccupied Hanoi and the Viet Minh once again assumed the position of guerrillas, fighting in the mountains.

It was a long time before either side was able to gain a decisive victory. In the late 1940s France, realizing that it could not win the war militarily, added a political dimension into the conflict, accusing the Viet Minh of fighting for communism and not for independence. France created a State of Vietnam, at the head of which they placed the former emperor Bao-dai, to whom they granted more independence than what they agreed to give Ho Chi Minh in 1946. The United States and other non-communist countries quickly recognized the new Vietnamese state, while China, the Soviet Union, and other communist counties recognized the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In one single move, France succeeded in transforming their war of colonial re-conquest into an anti-communist crusade, and made an imperialist conflict into a quasi-civil one. Despite their machinations, the move did not help them on the battlefield. In the early 1950s, the growing army of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, under the command of General Vo Nguyen Giap, began a series of offenses against the French. They achieved a famous victory at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954. The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu led to in an international conference on Vietnam in Geneva, which resulted in a cease fire and a temporary division of the country into North Vietnam, governed by Democratic Republic from Hanoi, and South Vietnam, which was entrusted to the French and their State of Vietnam with Bao-dai as the Chief of State and Ngo Dinh Diem as the Prime Minister in Saigon. Some South Vietnamese who sympathized with Ho Chi Minh's government moved north. About one million northerners, between 600,000 and 800,000 of whom were Catholics, fled south on U.S. and French aircraft and naval vessels.

Ngo Dinh Diem proved to be an energetic leader, putting down armed religious sects and criminal groups. He also demanded that France remove all its troops from Vietnam. In 1955, Diem organized and won elections that forced Bao-dai to abdicate. Diem proclaimed Vietnam a Republic with him as its first president. Supported by the United States, Diem refused to take part in the elections for national re-unification that had been promised by the Geneva Conference, which led to terrorism and other forms of resistance to his regime in many parts of South Vietnam.


Before 1975, there were almost no Vietnamese people in the United States, but the destinies of Vietnam and the United States became increasingly intertwined during the 1950s and 1960s. Since the war, the Vietnamese have become one of the largest Asian American groups. The American government began to show an interest in Vietnam during World War II, when it gave supplies and other forms of assistance to Ho Chi Minh's anti-Japanese forces. After the war, however, containment of international communism became America's primary foreign policy objective, and the Americans became increasingly dedicated to preserving the anti-communist South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem in order to keep the North Vietnamese from taking over the whole country.

Diem was a Catholic, and he relied heavily on Catholic support, alienating the Buddhist majority. This created opportunities for the North Vietnamese-supported insurgents, who organized themselves into the National Liberation Front. Their members became known as the Viet Cong. Many volunteer agencies based in the United States, including CARE, Catholic Relief Services, and Church World Services, became active in South Vietnam in the 1950s in response to the social disruption of war. It was through these organizations that many of the South Vietnamese were first acquainted with Americans and American culture.

In 1961 President Kennedy sent military advisors to South Vietnam to assist the beleaguered Diem government. Diem became increasingly unpopular in his own country, however, and in 1963 he was overthrown by a military coup, apparently with the knowledge and consent of the American government. The new leaders of South Vietnam proved less able to maintain control than Diem and by 1965, with the South Vietnamese government on the verge of collapse, President Johnson sent in ground troops.

American military and political leaders believed they were winning the war through the end of 1967. At the beginning of 1968, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops launched the Tet offensive, which convinced American leaders that victory, if possible at all, would not be quick or easy. It also increased the American public's opposition to the war. In 1973 the Paris peace talks ended with the United States agreeing on a timetable for withdrawing its troops and turning the war over to the South Vietnamese army. The South Vietnamese government was no better prepared to defend itself than it had been in 1965, and in April 1975 the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to an invasion of North Vietnamese and National Liberation Front troops.


On April 18, 1975, less than two weeks before the fall of Saigon, President Ford authorized the entry of 130,000 refugees from the three countries of Indochina into the United States, 125,000 of whom were Vietnamese. This first large group of Vietnamese in America has become known as "the first wave." Those in the first wave who arrived in the mid- to late-1970s, typically had close ties with the American military and therefore tended to be the elite of South Vietnam. According to data collected by the United States Department of State in 1975, over 30 percent of the heads of households in the first wave were trained in the medical professions or in technical or managerial occupations, 16.9 percent were in transportation occupations, and 11.7 percent were in clerical and sales occupations. Only 4.9 percent were fishermen or farmersoccupations of the majority of people in Vietnam. Over 70 percent of the first wave refugees from this overwhelmingly rural nation came from urban areas.

During the months of April and May 1975, six camps opened in the United States to receive refugees and prepare them for resettlement. After refugees were interviewed, given medical examinations, and assigned to living quarters, they were sent to one of nine voluntary agencies, or VOLAGs. These VOLAGs, the largest of which was the United States Catholic Conference, assumed the task of finding sponsors, individuals, or groups who would assume financial and personal responsibility for refugee families for up to two years.

Despite the fact that many first wave arrivals were from privileged backgrounds, few were well-prepared to take up a new life in America. The majority did not speak English and all found themselves in the midst of a strange culture. The American refugee agencies attempted to scatter them around the country, so that this new Asian population would not be too visible in any one place, and so that no one city or state would be burdened with caring for a large number of new arrivals. Nevertheless, although at least one percent of the southeast Asian population in 1976 resided in each of 29 states, California had already become home to the largest number of refugees, with 21.6 percent of all the Southeast Asians in the United States.

The beginning of the first wave in 1975 was followed by smaller numbers, with only 3,200 Vietnamese arriving in 1976 and 1,900 in 1977. These numbers increased dramatically in 1978 as a result of an enlarged resettlement program developed in response to the lobbying of concerned American citizens and organizations; 11,100 Vietnamese entered the country that year. Political and economic conditions in Vietnam at this time drove large numbers of Vietnamese from their country, often in small unsea-worthy boats. News of their hostile reception in neighboring countries and their sufferings at the hands of pirates created pressure in the United States to expand further the refugee program. Then in January 1979 Vietnam invaded neighboring Cambodia and the following month war broke out between Vietnam and China. As a result the number of Vietnamese admitted to the United States in 1979 rose to 44,500. Many of this second wave were Chinese citizens of Vietnam. As the war continued, the number of fleeing Indochinese rose steadily. Some were Cambodians or Laotians but Vietnam, with its larger population, was the homeland of the majority of refugees. In 1980, 167,000 southeast Asians, 95,200 of whom were Vietnamese, arrived in the United States. They were followed in 1981 by 132,000 southeast Asians, 86,100 of whom were Vietnamese.

Unlike the first refugees, the second wave came overwhelmingly from rural backgrounds and usually had limited education. Indeed, they appear to have been the least educated and the least skilled of any legal immigrants to the United States in recent history. Their hardships were increased by their time of arrival: 1980 was a year of high inflation rates, and 1981 to 1983 saw the most severe economic recession of the previous 50 years.

While first wave refugees came directly to the United States, those in the second wave tended to come through refugee camps in southeast Asia. Agencies under contract to the United States Department of State organized classes to teach English and familiarize refugees with American culture. VOLAGs were still charged with finding sponsors prior to resettlement.

By the early 1980s, secondary migration (moving a second time after arriving in the United States) had somewhat concentrated the Vietnamese American population in states with warmer weather. By 1984, over 40 percent of these refugees were located in California, mostly in the large urban centers. Texas, the state with the next largest number of southeast Asians, held 7.2 percent. This trend toward concentration continued throughout the 1980s, so that the 1990 census showed 50 percent of Vietnamese Americans living in California, and a little over 11 percent living in Texas. Other states with large numbers of Vietnamese were Virginia, Washington, Florida, New York, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.

The number of Vietnamese and other Indochinese coming to the United States never again reached the high points of 1980 and 1981. The influx did continue, however, with roughly 24,000 Vietnamese reaching America every year through 1986. Many of those leaving Vietnam for the United States in the 1980s emigrated legally through the Orderly Departure Program (ODP). This was a program formed by the governments of the United States and Vietnam, despite the fact that there were no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries, which allowed those interviewed and approved by U.S. officials in Vietnam to leave the country. Two of the groups in which the United States was particularly interested were the former South Vietnamese soldiers, who were in prisons and re-education camps, and the Amerasians, the roughly 8,000 children of American fathers and Vietnamese mothers who had been left behind at the end of the war. Although an estimated 50,000 Vietnamese were resettled in the United States through the Orderly Departure Program between late 1979 and 1987, refugees also continued to pour out of Vietnam by boat and on land, across war-torn Cambodia to Thailand.

Although the number of Vietnamese to enter the United States diminished in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the group continued to grow as a part of American society. While the 1980 U.S. census placed the number of Vietnamese in this country at 245,025, the 1990 census listed 614,545. This increase of over 150 percent made the Vietnamese America's fifth largest Asian group. Because they have large families (the average number of persons in Vietnamese families in 1990 was 4.36 compared with 3.06 for white Americans and 3.48 for African Americans), by the year 2000 the Vietnamese are expected to be the third largest group among Asians and Pacific Islanders, outnumbered only by Chinese and Filipinos.

Acculturation and Assimilation

When the first group of Vietnamese arrived in the United States, there was concern about how well this large group of people, from a vastly different culture with limited English and traumatic experiences of war, would fit into American society. The Vietnamese remain newcomers; nearly half are immigrants who arrived after 1980 and only 18.6 percent of Vietnamese living in the United States were born here. Despite these obstacles, their adaptation has been rapid. By 1990 almost three-fourths of Vietnamese in the United States could speak English well or very well. Only 20.5 percent did not speak English well, and only 4.7 percent could not speak English at all. There were differences between those who arrived before 1980 and those who arrived after 1980, but both groups showed high levels of English-language ability. Among the pre-1980 immigrants, 86.9 percent reported that they could speak English well or very well and only 2.0 percent reported that they could not speak English at all. Among the post-1980 immigrants, 62.8 percent said that they could speak English well or very well, and 7.3 percent said that they could not speak English at all.

Despite the general success in adapting to the new country, many Vietnamese Americans continue to face hardships. Nearly a quarter lived below the poverty level in 1990. Moreover, many Vietnamese have had to face prejudice and discrimination from other sectors of the American population.

Maintaining Vietnamese traditions is a major concern in most Vietnamese American communities and adult Vietnamese Americans often worry that their children may be losing distinctive cultural characteristics. Since Vietnamese Americans are such new arrivals, it is difficult to judge to what extent these concerns are justified. Some Vietnamese Americans have made a conscious effort to assimilate completely into American society (for instance, by changing the last name "Nguyen" to "Newman" or "Winn"), but most retain their sense of ethnicity. Those who live in areas largely populated by Vietnamese typically remain more culturally distinctive than those who reside in suburban areas, surrounded by Americans of other ethnic backgrounds.

American views of the Vietnamese have been dominated by American involvement in the Vietnam War. Books and movies about Vietnam and the Vietnamese, such as the films Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter, tend to be ethnocentric, addressing the American experience in Vietnam, rather than Vietnamese life. Vietnamese Americans are often stereotyped in the popular press as chronic overachievers or desperate refugees. These stereotypes may lose some of their force as the Vietnamese presence in America continues.


Rice is the basis of most Vietnamese meals. In fact, the word com (pronounced "gum"), which means "cooked rice," is also used to mean "food" in general. In Vietnamese, to ask "have you eaten yet?" one literally asks "have you eaten rice yet?" Rice is eaten with a variety of side dishes, which are usually quite spicy. Popular dishes include ca kho (braised fish, pronounced "ga khaw"), ca chien (fried fish, pronounced "ga cheeyen"), thit ga kho sa (chicken braised with lemon grass, pronounced "tit ga khaw sa"), thit bo xao (stir-fried beef, pronounced "tit baw sow"), and suon xao chua ngot (sweet and sour spare ribs, pronounced "sow chewa ngawt"). Egg rolls, known as cha gio ("cha yaw"), are served with many Vietnamese meals and at almost all Vietnamese festive occasions. A rice noodle soup, pho ("fuh"), is one of the most popular breakfast and lunch foods. Vietnamese restaurants have become common in the United States, and their delicious foods are one of the most widely appreciated contributions of Vietnamese Americans to American life.


Vietnamese men, even in Vietnam, long ago adopted western dress. Women, however, still wear the traditional ao dai (pronounced "ow yai") on most special occasions. The ao dai consists of a long mandarin-collared shirt that extends to the calves, slit at both sides to the waist. This is worn over loose black or white pants. Ao dais may come in many colors, and their flowing simplicity makes them among the most graceful forms of dress.

The conical Vietnamese hat known as the non la (literally, "leaf hat") may be seen often in areas where large numbers of Vietnamese Americans reside. Designed for protection from the hot sun of southeast Asia, the non la is light and provides comfortable shade when working outdoors.


The most important Vietnamese holiday is Tet, which marks both the beginning of the lunar New Year and the beginning of spring. Tet usually falls in late January or early February. In traditional families, a ceremony may be held on the afternoon before Tet, during which deceased ancestors are invited to come back and spend the festival days with the living. As in the western New Year, fireworks may be heard at midnight, heralding the coming year. Several young men dressed up as a dragon, the symbol of power and nobility, perform the dragon dance on the streets or other open spaces. The dragon dance also has become an important part of the cultural exhibitions in schools and other places. On the morning of Tet, families awaken early and dress in their best clothes. People offer each other New Year wishes and give the children lucky red envelopes containing money. Tet is considered a time for visiting and entertaining guests, and non-Vietnamese are heartily welcomed to most of the celebrations and ceremonies.

Many Vietnamese Americans, especially Buddhists, also celebrate the traditional holiday of Trung Nguyen, or "Wandering Souls Day," which falls in the middle of the seventh lunar month. On this holiday, tables are filled with food offered to the wandering souls of ancestors. In some cases, money and clothes made of special paper may be burned at this time.

Trung Thu, or the "Mid-Autumn Festival", held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month is one of the loveliest of Vietnamese holidays. Bakers in Vietnamese communities begin to prepare weeks before the festival by making moon cakes of sticky rice. People fashion lanterns of cellophane paper in many different shapes, and place candles inside. On the night of the festival, children form a procession and travel through the streets with their bright lanterns, dancing to the beat of drums and cymbals.

In 1994, Congress designated May 11 as the annual Vietnam Human Rights Day. Each year, the day is used to remind the world that Vietnam remains under communist rule and that the Vietnamese struggle for freedom continues. In 1995, Congress sponsored a rally at the Hart Senate Office building on Capitol Hill.


Like the proverbs of many other peoples, traditional Vietnamese proverbs form a treasury of popular wisdom, offering insights into the society and into its beliefs about how relations among people are or ought to be. The following are a few of the countless proverbs that have been quoted by generations of Vietnamese people: Birds have nests, people have ancestors; If a branch is broken from a tree, the branch dies; Big fish eat little ones; From our own thoughts we can guess the thoughts of others; Even the fierce tiger will not devour its kittens; The city has its laws, the village has its customs; The law of the Emperor must give way before the customs of the village; The higher one climbs, the more painful the fall; Life is ten times more valuable than wealth; Chew when you eat, think when you speak.


Many older Vietnamese suffer from the strains of war and exile. Younger Vietnamese, who sometimes find themselves straddling two cultures, express confusion over discrepancies between the expectations of their parents and those of the larger society. Nevertheless, Vietnamese Americans as a whole do not exhibit mental health problems that prevent them from functioning in American society.

Vietnamese Americans generally have a high opinion of the American medical establishment. The profession of medical doctor is the most highly rated by Vietnamese Americans in terms of prestige, and it is a source of great pride to Vietnamese American parents to have a child who is a doctor or a nurse.

Tuberculosis was a serious problem among Vietnamese refugees to the United States, but they were kept in refugee camps overseas until it was determined that the disease was cured. As a result, the incidence of tuberculosis among Vietnamese Americans now appears to be very low.


Vietnamese is generally a monosyllabic language. Two or more one-syllable words may be joined together, however, usually connected by a hyphen, to form a compound word. Vietnamese is a tonal language; the meanings of words are determined by the pitch or tone at which the words are spoken. Several of these tones are also found in English, but English does not use the tones in the same way. In Vietnamese, the sound "ma " pronounced with a falling tone and the sound "ma " pronounced with a low rising tone are actually two different words. The first means "but" and the second means "tomb." There are six of these tones in Vietnamese. In modern written Vietnamese, which uses the romanized system of writing introduced by European missionaries, the tones are indicated by diacritical marks, or marks written above and below the vowel in each syllable. A word without any mark is spoken with a mid-level tone. When the word has an acute accent over the vowel, it is pronounced with a voice that starts high and then rises sharply. When the word has a grave accent over the vowel, it is pronounced with a voice that starts at a low level and then falls even lower. A tilde over the vowel indicates a high broken tone, in which the voice starts slightly above the middle of the normal speaking voice range, drops and then rises abruptly. A diacritical mark that looks like a question mark without the dot at the bottom is written over a vowel to indicate the low rising tone that sounds like the questioning tone in English. A dot written under a vowel means that the word should be pronounced with a voice that starts low, drops a little bit lower, and is then cut off abruptly. Most non-Vietnamese who study the language agree that the tones are the most difficult part of learning to speak it properly.

One of the most interesting features of Vietnamese is its use of status-related pronouns, a feature that it shares with many other Asian languages. While English has only one singular first-person, one singular second-person, and two singular third-person pronouns, Vietnamese has words that perform the function of pronouns. The word that is used for a pronoun depends on the relationship between the speaker and the person addressed. When a student addresses a teacher, for example, the word used for "you" is the respectful "thay, " which means "teacher." Many of the words used as pronouns express family relations, even when the Vietnamese are speaking with non-family members. Close friends are addressed as "anh " ("older brother") or "chi " ("older sister"). To address someone more politely, especially someone older than oneself, one uses the words "ong " (literally, "grandfather") or "ba " (literally, "grandmother"). In this way, the fundamental Vietnamese values of respect for age, education, and social prestige and the central place of the extended family in Vietnamese life are embodied in the language itself.

The dialect of northern Vietnam, known as tieng bac, is slightly different from that of southern Vietnam, known as tieng nam. One of the most notable differences is that the Vietnamese letter "d " is pronounced like the consonant "y" in the southern dialect and somewhat like the "z" in the northern dialect. Although the southern dialect is more common among Vietnamese Americans, many Vietnamese Americans who are from families that moved south in 1954 speak the northern dialect.

Although many of Vietnamese Americans speak English well and use it outside the home, the vast majority retain the Vietnamese language. In 1990, about 80 percent of those who identified themselves as Vietnamese in the U.S. census said they spoke Vietnamese at home, while another 4.7 percent said they spoke Chinese, and only 14.1 percent reported speaking English at home. Even among those who came to the United States before 1980, over 70 percent reported speaking Vietnamese at home. Vietnamese Americans generally regard their language as an important part of their cultural identity, and make efforts to pass it on to their young people.


Some common Vietnamese greetings and expressions are: Chao ong ("jow ohm")Hello (to an older man or to one to whom one wishes to show respect); Chao anh Hello (to a male friend); Chao ba ("jow ba")Hello (to an older woman); Chao co ("jow go")Hello (to a younger woman); Di Dao ("dee dow")Where are you going? (commonly used as a greeting); Ong (or anh, ba, co, depending on the gender and relationship of the person addressed) manh gioi khong ("ohm mahn yoi kohm")Are you well? (used in the sense of the English "How are you?"); Cam on ("gahm ung")Thank you; Khong co gi ("kohm gaw yi")You're welcome (literally the expression means: "that is nothing!"); Chuc mung nam moi ("chook meung nam meuey")Happy New Year. Since Vietnamese uses tones and also contains some sounds not found in English, the suggested pronunciations are only approximate.


Until the twentieth century, the greater part of Vietnamese literature was written in Chinese characters. A smaller portion of their literature was written in chu nom, a writing system that uses a combination of Chinese characters to transcribe Vietnamese sounds. The Vietnamese people have a wealth of folktales that were usually passed on by storytelling, although many were collected in anthologies in chu nom. The folktales include stories about animals, fairy tales, fables with moral lessons, Buddhist legends, and stories about historical figures. There are several good collections of Vietnamese folktales in English that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. Among these are Under the Starfruit Tree: Folktales from Vietnam (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989), collected by Alice M. Terada; The Beggar in the Blanket and Other Vietnamese Tales (New York: Dial Press, 1970), retold by Gail Graham; and The Wishing Pearl and Other Tales of Vietnam (New York: Harvey House, 1969), translated by Lam Chan Quan and edited by Jon and Kay Nielsen.

The earliest works of formal literature composed in chu nom are poems that date from the Tran dynasty in the thirteenth century a.d. The most important early Vietnamese author, however, was Nguyen Trai, a poet of the early 1400s, who was heavily influenced by Chinese models. Ironically, Nguyen Trai served as a minister in the court of the Vietnamese ruler Le Loi (also known as the Emperor Le Thai To), who waged a successful war of liberation against China. This emperor was himself a poet and his writings are included in one of the first anthologies of Vietnamese poetry, which is still read today.

The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were something of a golden age for narrative and lyric verse in chu nom characters. The six- and eight-syllable verse known as luc-bat became the most important and widely used literary form at this time. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the poet Nguyen Du used the six-eight syllable lucbat to compose the long narrative Kim Van Kieu, or the Tale of Khieu, which is considered the national literary masterpiece of Vietnam (translated into English by Huynh Sanh Thong and published in the United States by Yale University Press, 1983).

The early- to mid-twentieth century saw a flowering of Vietnamese literature, due largely to the spread of the quoc ngu, or romanized system of writing. The older Chinese-based writing system was difficult to learn and to use, and the new writing made mass literacy possible, creating new readers and writers. In the twentieth century also, western forms of literature, such as the novel, journalism, and literary criticism, took root. Two of the most popular contemporary novelists in Vietnam are Duong Thu Huong, whose novel Paradise of the Blind (translated into English by Nina McPherson and Phan Huy Duong, William Morrow and Co, 1993) became the first novel from Vietnam to appear in English in the United States, and Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War, which also appears in English (translated by Phan Thanh Hao and edited by Frank Palmos, New York: Pantheon Books, 1995).

Vietnamese Americans, struggling to adjust to life in a new country and a new language, are only beginning to establish a literature of their own. Most Vietnamese communities have their own newspapers, which frequently offer poems and stories in Vietnamese. The memoir has become an important literary form for Vietnamese American authors attempting to reach a wider English-speaking audience. Two important memoirs by Vietnamese American authors are The Vietnamese Gulag (Simon and Schuster, 1986), by Doan Van Toai, and When Heaven and Earth Changed Places (Doubleday, 1989), by Le Ly Hayslip. The latter work has also been made into a film by Oliver Stone, and Hayslip has published a second memoir entitled Child of War, Woman of Peace (Doubleday, 1993). Jade Ngoc Quang Huynh's South Wind Changing: A Memoir (Graywolf Press, 1994), which tells of the author's youth and university education in Saigon, imprisonment in a reeducation camp, flight to America, and his efforts to become a writer, met with great critical acclaim.

Family and Community Dynamics

The extended family is the heart of Vietnamese culture, and preservation of family life in their new home is one of the most important concerns of Vietnamese Americans. While American families are generally nuclear, consisting of parents and their children, the Vietnamese tend to think of the family as including maternal and paternal grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Traditionally-minded Vietnamese Americans think of all social relations on the model of family relations. Many Vietnamese Americans have taken on family patterns similar to the nuclear families of other Americans, but many of them still attempt to retain close ties with their extended families, so that even when adult children marry and leave the household, parents often encourage them to live nearby.

Older and newly arrived Vietnamese Americans often display indirectness and extreme politeness in dealing with others. They will tend to avoid looking other people in the eyes out of respect, and they frequently try not to express open disagreement with others. U.S.-born Vietnamese youth often have the mannerisms and cultural traits of other American adolescents, which sometimes leads to intergenerational conflict, and to complaints by older people that the younger people are "disrespectful."

Vietnamese American family ties are strong and their families generally remain intact, despite the strains of exile and adaptation to a new country. In the 1990 U.S. census, 84 percent of Vietnamese people over 15 years of age who had been married were still married. Only 5.3 percent were divorced and only 4.5 percent were separated.

Although Vietnamese Americans often express a distaste for public assistance, most Vietnamese families who arrive in the United States as refugees receive public assistance for about six months from the time of arrival. In 1990, about a fourth of Vietnamese American families were receiving some form of public assistance.


Dating is almost unknown in Vietnam, where couples are almost always accompanied by chaperons, and many Vietnamese American parents feel very uncomfortable with the idea of their daughters going out alone with young men. Still, American-style dating has become fairly common among young Vietnamese Americans. Most Vietnamese Americans marry within their ethnic group, but Vietnamese American women are much more likely to marry non-Vietnamese than are Vietnamese American men.


Education is highly valued in Vietnamese culture, and the knowledge attained by children is viewed as a reflection on the entire family. In a study of achievement among southeast Asian refugees, Nathan Caplan, John K. Whitmore, and Marcella H. Choy found that with both grades and scores on standardized tests, Vietnamese American children ranked higher than other American children, although they did show deficiencies in language and reading. Even Catholic Vietnamese Americans usually attend public schools. Both males and females pursue higher education. A degree in engineering is by far the most popular degree, although this occupation tends to be pursued by males more than by females.

The high value placed on learning leads a large proportion of young Vietnamese Americans to pursue higher education. Almost half of Vietnamese Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 in 1990 were in college, compared with 39.5 percent of white Americans and 28.1 percent of black Americans in the same age group. High school dropout rates among young Vietnamese Americans were also lower than those of other Americans. Only 6.5 percent of Vietnamese Americans from ages 16 to 19 were neither enrolled in high school nor high school graduates, compared to 9.8 percent of white American youth and 13.7 percent of black American youth.


Vietnamese culture is patriarchal, but relations between male and female Vietnamese in the United States have become much more egalitarian. Vietnamese families strongly encourage higher education for both young men and young women. Still, almost all community leaders are men and young Vietnamese American women often voice frustration at the expectation that they should be primarily wives and mothers, even if they work outside the home.

It is common for Vietnamese American women to work outside the home (55.8 percent contribute to the labor force), but they are often employed in low-paying, marginal, part-time jobs. Although over 90 percent of the female civilian labor force for this group was currently employed in the 1990 census, only 66.6 percent were employed full-time.


Although Buddhism is the religion of the over-whelming majority of people in Vietnam, probably about 30 percent of Vietnamese Americans are Catholics. The rituals and practices of Vietnamese Catholics are the same as those of Catholics everywhere, but some observers, such as Jesse Nash, author of Vietnamese Catholicism (New Orleans, Art Review Press, 1992) have claimed that the Vietnamese Catholic outlook is heavily influenced by Confucianism.

Vietnamese Buddhists are almost always Mahayana Buddhists, the general school of Buddhism found in China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet. Vietnamese Buddhism is heavily influenced by the tradition known in Vietnamese as Tien, which is more commonly known in the West by its Japanese name Zen. This discipline emphasizes the achievement of enlightenment through meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Zen master who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., is widely known in the United States, even outside the Vietnamese American community, for his stories, poems, and sermons.

Employment and Economic Traditions

Vietnamese Americans may be found in almost all occupations, but they seem to show a preference for technical jobs, such as electrical engineering and machinery assembling. In the southern states along the Gulf Coast, Vietnamese fishermen and shrimpers play an important role in the fishing industry. High rates of employment have helped to earn Vietnamese Americans a reputation for being hard-working and energetic. In 1990, male Vietnamese Americans over the age of 26 had an unemployment rate of only 5.3 percent and even second-wave refugees, with an unemployment rate of only 6.3 percent, showed less joblessness than most others in the country.

About ten percent of Vietnamese Americans were self-employed in 1990. According to a United States census report on minority-owned businesses, in 1987, Vietnamese in America owned 25,671 firms, with 13,357 employees. This means that the number of Vietnamese-owned businesses had increased by about 415 percent since 1982. Of these businesses, 46 percent (11,855 firms) were in California and a little over one-fifth of these businesses (5,443) were in Texas. This remarkable growth in business ownership among Vietnamese Americans appears to have continued into the 1990s, suggesting that they are adapting well to the U.S. economy.

Politics and Government

Vietnamese Americans are not yet heavily involved in American politics. Most Vietnamese American communities have a branch of the Vietnamese American Voters' Association, a decentralized set of grass-roots groups that functions primarily to prepare Vietnamese people to apply for U.S. citizenship and to advise Vietnamese Americans on voting in local elections.

The relationship between Vietnam and the United States is the major political issue for most Vietnamese Americans, and it is a highly divisive one. Some Vietnamese Americans favor closer relations to Vietnam, feeling that this will lead to greater prosperity for their parent country and contribute to its liberalization. Others strongly oppose any relations between the United States and Vietnam, in the belief that any relations between the two countries help to support the current socialist Vietnamese government.

Young Vietnamese Americans have only begun to serve in the American military. Nevertheless, military service is popular among new college graduates. Vietnamese American cadets at the major American military academies, although few in number, have received widespread attention in the media.

Many Vietnamese Americans remain concerned with the political situation in Vietnam. In Garden Grove, California, a group of Vietnamese American youngsters formed the group "Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam by 2000." In 1999, Nguyen Dan Que, a medical doctor and former political prisoner, announced that "I am going to organiseand this is a challenge to the [Vietnamese] governmenta meeting of former political prisoners in Vietnam." In April 1999, approximately 800-1,000 Vietnamese Americans rallied on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C., to express their concern about Vietnam.

Political emotions can run very high in Vietnamese American communities. In Westminster, California, Truong Van Tran, an electronics store owner in an area known as Little Saigon put up a poster of Ho Chi Minh in his shop. After a few eventless months, someone complained to Tran's nephew, who was working at the store. Tran responded with a pointed letter to a local group of anti-communist Vietnamese Americans. Soon afterward Tran faced protesters outside his store. The owner of the mall took the matter to Orange County Superior Court where the judge ordered Tran to take the poster down until she could review the matter further. In February of 1999 the court ruled that Tran had the First Amendment right to display the poster despite the mall owner's claims to his right to orderly business. When Tran returned to his store with the Ho Chi Minh poster, an angry mob of 200 Vietnamese immigrants assaulted him. Tran left the scene in an ambulance. He later told the New York Times, "I have a right to hang whatever picture I like in my store. I know the law in this country."

Santa Ana, California, was the site of a flap over a Vietnamese American art show. The Bowers Museum of Cultural Art put on an exhibit of Vietnamese art called "A Winding River" that contained some works that seemed to promote communism. The communist symbols and images sparked controversy and inspired many Vietnamese immigrants in the area to picket and protest the exhibit. Laura Baker, the Bowers Museum curator of Asian art, told the New York Times that the public protests had doubled attendance at the exhibit.

Individual and Group Contributions

Because the arrival of Vietnamese Americans is so recent, they have only begun to make their mark on American culture.


Huynh Sanh Thong is a scholar and translator of Vietnamese literature. Thong was the first editor of The Vietnam Forum and Lac Viet, two series of collections of literary works on Vietnamese history, folklore, economics and politics. Both of these collections are part of The Southeast Asian Refugee Project of the Yale Council on Southeast Asia Studies.


Dustin Nguyen, born Nguyen Xuan Tri in Saigon, fled with his family to the United States in 1975 when he was 12 years old. Nguyen graduated from high school in Missouri and attended Orange Coast College in California, where he became interested in acting. He moved to Hollywood to pursue this interest and became famous for the character he played on the T.V. series 21 Jump Street from 1986 to 1990.


Andrew Lam is an associate editor with the Pacific News Service. The son of a South Vietnamese army officer, he fled Vietnam with his family in 1975, the day before Saigon fell. He has published essays and news stories in a wide variety of publications. His memoir "My Vietnam, My America" (published in the December 10, 1990 issue of The Nation ), gives a young Vietnamese American's reflections on his dual heritage.


Jean Nguyen and Hung Vu, in 1985, became the first Vietnamese immigrants to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Both had arrived in the United States just ten years earlier, unable to speak English.



Most Vietnamese American communities have small Vietnamese-language newspapers with limited circulation. However, there are only a few national publications that are accessible to the public at large.

Across the Sea.

A magazine published twice a year by Vietnamese American Student Publications.

Contact: Jeffrey Hung Nguygen and Quyen Le, Editors.

Address: 700 Eshleman Hall, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720.

Gia Dinh Moi (New Family).

Monthly Catholic magazine in Vietnamese.

Address: 841 Lenzen Avenue, Third Floor, San Jose, California 95126-2736.

Horizons: Of Vietnamese Thought and Culture.

A magazine for Vietnamese American young adults.

Contact: Huy Thanh Cao, Editor.

Address: 415 South Park Victoria, Suite 350, Milpitas, California 95035.

International Association for Research in Vietnamese Music.

Address: P.O. Box 16, Kent, Ohio 44240.

Telephone: (216) 382-2917.

Fax: (440) 677-4434.

E-mail: [email protected].

Journal of Vietnamese Music: Nhac Viet.

Formerly Nhac Viet Newsletter. Published by International Association for Research in Vietnamese Music; a research journal focusing on the music of Vietnam and Asia.

Contact: Dr. Sara Stone Miller, Editor.

Address: P.O. Box 16, Kent, Ohio 44240.

Telephone: (216) 677-9703.

Khang Chien.

A monthly Vietnamese-language magazine covering events and developments in Vietnam.

Contact: Nguyen Trong Thuc, Editor.

Address: P.O. Box 7826, San Jose, California 95150.

Telephone: (408) 363-1078.

Fax: (408) 363-1178.

Nguoi Vet.

Daily newspaper in Vietnamese.

Contact: Do Ngoc Yen, Publisher.

Address: 14891 Moren Street, Westminster, California 92683.

Telephone: (714) 892-9414.

Fax: (714) 894-1381.

Thoi Luan.

A weekly Vietnamese community newspaper.

Contact: Do Dien Duc, Publisher.

Address: 1685 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90026.

Telephone: (213) 483-8817.

Tin Viet.

Weekly Vietnamese community newspaper.

Contact: Nguyen Thuong Hieb, Editor.

Address: 9872 Chapman Avenue, Suite 12, Garden Grove, California 92641.

Telephone: (714) 530-6521.

Van Hoc.

A major Vietnamese American literary magazine entirely in Vietnamese.

Address: P.O. Box 3192, Tustin, California 92680.

Vietnam Daily Newspaper.

Daily community newspaper serving the greater San Francisco area.

Contact: Giang Nguyen, Publisher.

Address: 575 Tully Road, San Jose, California 95111.

Telephone: (408) 292-3422.

Fax: (408) 292-4088.

The Viet Nam Forum.

A journal published by the Southeast Asian Refugee Project of the Yale Council on Southeast Asian Studies. This project was founded as an archive for written material by refugees from Southeast Asia. The Council also publishes Lac Viet, a series of anthologies of works on Vietnamese history, folklore, economics, and politics.

Contact: Dan Duffy, Editor.

Address: Yale Council on Southeast Asian Studies, Box 13A Yale Station, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.

The Viet Nam Generation.

A press established for the purpose of publishing scholarship and literature about the war in Vietnam; it also publishes material on contemporary Vietnamese Americans.

Address: 18 Center Road, Woodbridge, Connecticut 06525.

Viet Nam Hai Ngoai.

Monthly Vietnamese magazine.

Contact: Dinh Thach Bich, Editor and Publisher.

Address: P.O. Box 33627, San Diego, California 92103-0580.

Organizations and Associations

Vietnamese Americans have formed a wide variety of organizations during the short time they have been a part of American society. Most of these exist to help newly arrived Vietnamese adjust to American society, but they also provide information about Vietnamese American culture, business, and other aspects of Vietnamese life in this country.

Center for Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement.

Provides services to newly arrived Indochinese refugees.

Contact: Vu-Duc Vuong, Executive Director.

Address: 875 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California 94109.

Telephone: (415) 885-2743.

Federation of American Cultural and Language Communities (FACLC).

A coalition of ethnic organizations representing Americans of Armenian, French, German, Hispanic, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Sicilian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese descent; works to address areas of common interest to ethnic communities; seeks to further the rights of ethnic Americans, especially their cultural and linguistic rights. Publishes quarterly newsletter.

Contact: Alfred M. Rotondaro, Executive Director.

Address: 666 11th Street, N.W., Suite 800 NIAF, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Telephone: (202) 638-0220.

National Association for the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans.

Seeks to: provide equal educational opportunities for Indochinese-Americans; advance the rights of Indochinese-Americans; acknowledge and publicize contributions of Vietnamese and other Indochinese in American schools, culture, and society; encourage appreciation of Indochinese cultures, peoples, education, and language. Facilitates the exchange of information and skills among Indochinese professionals and other professionals working with Indochinese Americans. Works toward legislative needs of Indochinese-Americans in education, health, social services, and welfare.

Contact: Ms. Kimoanh Nguyen-lam, President.

Address: 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, California 90840.

Telephone: (562) 985-5806.

Fax: (562) 985-4528.

E-mail: [email protected].

Vietnamese American Civic Organization.

Promotes the participation of Vietnamese Americans in voting and other civic activities.

Contact: Hiep Chu, Executive Director.

Address: 1486 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, Massachusetts 02122.

Telephone: (617) 288-7344.

Vietnamese American Cultural and Social Council.

Devoted to the social welfare of Vietnamese Americans, as well as to the maintenance of Vietnamese culture in America.

Contact: Paul Phu Tran, Executive Director.

Address: 1211 Garbo Way, Suite 304, San Jose, California 95117.

Telephone: (408) 971-8285.

Vietnamese American Cultural Organization.

Concerned with furthering Vietnamese culture and traditions in the United States.

Contact: Father Joseph Hien.

Address: 213 West 30th Street, New York, New York 10001.

Telephone: (212) 343-0762.

Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce in America.

Serves minority groups; provides help with small businesses.

Contact: Tuong Ngyen, Executive Director.

Address: 9938 Bolsa Avenue, Suite 216, Westminister, California 92683.

Telephone: (714) 839-2257.

Vietnamese Fishermen Association of America.

Represents the interests of the large number of Vietnamese Americans who fish off the Pacific and Gulf Coasts.

Contact: John Nguyen, Executive Director.

Address: 570 Tenth Street, Suite 306, Oakland, California 94607.

Telephone: (510) 834-7971.

Vietnamese Heritage Society (VHS).

Works to preserve Vietnamese culture and heritage and to increase understanding between ethnic groups.

Contact: Trang T. Le, President.

Address: 9750 West Wheaton Circle, New Orleans, Louisiana 70127.

Telephone: (504) 254-1857.

Vietnamese Senior Citizens Association.

Vietnamese individuals 50 years of age and older. Offers social and cultural assistance and fellowship to members. Sponsors community events including the Tet festival (a celebration of the Vietnamese New Year) and ceremonies commemorating Vietnamese national heroes and deceased relatives of members. Maintains cemetery for members.

Contact: Linh Quang Vien, President.

Address: 3813 Wildlive Lane, Burtonsville, Maryland 20866

Vietnam Refugee Fund.

Community and professional volunteers who provide assistance and staff programs aimed at the smooth resettlement of Vietnamese refugees into the U.S. Offers counseling, seminars in crosscultural understanding, job information and placement service, and translation and interpretation. Intervenes on behalf of Vietnamese refugees and residents in legal matters; assists in organizing citizenship classes. Operates Vietnamese-language radio program in Washington, DC, area.

Contact: Dao Thi Hoi, Coordinator.

Address: 6433 Nothana Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22150.

Telephone: (703) 971-9178. Fax: (703) 719-5764.

Sources for Additional Study

Bass, Thomas A. Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home. New York: Soho, 1996.

Caplan, Nathan, John K. Whitmore, and Marcella H. Choy. The Boat People and Achievement in America: A Study of Family Life and Cultural Values. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.

Do, Hien Duc. The Vietnamese Americans. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Freeman, James M. Hearts of Sorrow: Vietnamese-American Lives. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press 1989.

McKelvey, Robert S. The Dust of Life: America's Children Abandoned in Vietnam. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999.

Refugees as Immigrants: Cambodians, Laotians, and Vietnamese in America, edited by David Haines. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman & Littlefield, 1989.

Rutledge, Paul. The Vietnamese Experience in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992.

Southeast Asian-American Communities, edited by Kali Tal. Woodbridge, Connecticut: Viet Nam Generation, 1992.

Tenhula, John. Voices from Southeast Asia: The Refugee Experience in the United States. New York and London: Holmes & Meier, 1991.

Toai, Doan Van, and David Chanoff. The Vietnamese Gulag. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986.

Tollefson, James W. Alien Winds: The Reeducation of America's Indochinese Refugees. New York: Praeger, 1990.

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