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NUS Press, 2013

Get a copy here.


Choice selected It's a Living: Work and Life in Vietnam as one of its "highly recommended" selections for March 2014, for all levels/libraries.

"It's a Living" gives voice to 67 Vietnamese works from all walks of life. The respondents paint vivid pictures of their daily routines and the particular rewards and challenges of each career path. The short chapters are balanced between people who take pleasure in their work and those who are mostly there for the pay check. Apparently ordinary jobs, such as factory work, farmer and bank employee, are interspersed with more offbeat occupations, from grey hair plucker to rat catcher. Interviews touch on issues of corruption and arbitrary enforcement of regulations; they also reveal the importance of education and aspirations of the Vietnamese for their children. A short introduction sets out the book's major themes, but readers would benefit from more about Vietnamese socialism and how much workers have to pay toward the cost of education, health care and retirement.

This book is a wonderful, evocative read for undergraduates or anyone with an interest in the people of Vietnam. Beautiful photos allow many of the book's personalities to shine through. --Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

... vividly illuminates the intersection between processes of social and economic transformation and the everyday ... We come to learn what change means, how it is experienced, and the myriad ways that ordinary people, in often quite extraordinary ways, navigate the shoals of life. Their stories are both instructive and humbling. --Jonathan Rigg, author of Unplanned Development: Tracking Change in South-East Asia

... beguiling in simplicity, but epic in scope, cutting a clean slice from the Vietnamese social economic strata from top to bottom ... The best non-fiction work on Vietnam I've seen in a decade. --Andrew X. Pham, author of Catfish & Mandala: a Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

... captures much of the wit and personal drama of everyday Vietnamese life that is so often missing in academic studies ... a vibrant, nuanced journey ... --David Biggs, author of Quagmire: nation-building and nature in the Mekong Delta

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