Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eating the Forest

We Are Eating the Forest:

This excellent ethnographic study of the lives of families in a Hmong village in the 1950s. Emphasis on ritual and spiritual belief, division of labor, politics,and material culture.

The Story of a Montagnard Village in the Central Highlands of Vietnam
by Georges Condominas (Nous avez mangé la forét de la pierre-genie Goô. Translated from the French by Adrienne Foulke, Mercure de 
France, Paris, 1957. English translation, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977.

This is one of  those invaluable gems that could have provided understanding about the anticolonial strife and the eventual civil war in Vietnam.  It's right thereon the shelf next to Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam is a book written by the American journalist Frances FitzGerald and published in 1972 by both Back Bay Publishing and Little, Brown and Company.
And for fiction set in Thailand (and almost true), read Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski (2008)

The Ugly American, first published in 1957, is a book that JFK, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon and all the rest might have glanced at before intruding upon Vietnam's civil war. Even the fine fictional story, Fieldwork  (2007) by Micscha Berlinski (b. 1977), and certainly Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam  by Frances FitzGerald (1970)

Indeed, by 1964 (if not earlier) there were "advisers ," Americans Green Beret teams, in country, as described in Ledere and Burdick's Ugly American (1958) and the Deceptive American (1977).

Actually, it turns out that JFK did read Burdick's Ugly American, but ...

But Eating the Forest is something else.

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