UConn Historian: South Vietnam Archives Provide New Insights into War

Historians in the News
tags: South Vietnam, Vietnam War, Republic of Vietnam

For most Americans who lived during the Vietnam War, their understanding of that conflict centered around the motivation of the United States to prevent the spread of communist rule in Southeast Asia.

However, new research based on the examination of internal documents from the South Vietnamese government by Humanities Institute Fellow Nu-Ahn Tran, an associate professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, tells a much different story.

“Most of the scholarship up until the opening of the Vietnamese archives argued, based on American scholarship, that [South Vietnamese President] Ngo Dinh Diem took certain actions often because the Americans told them to,” Tran says. “But when you find documents for the internal workings of government, what you realize is that Ngo Dinh Diem had a certain agenda, his advisors had certain agendas, and the policies that they came up with often reflected that as much as any conversations they had with Americans.”

Tran, who has studied the history of the Republic of Vietnam, as South Vietnam was officially known, is writing a book based on her research with the working title “Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam, 1954-1963,” which explores authoritarianism and democracy during the tenure of Ngo Dinh Diem. She says reviewing official documents housed at the National Archives Center II in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), as well as in newspapers, periodicals and other Vietnamese-language publications led her to identify what she calls the development of “anticommunist nationalism.”

Read entire article at UConn Today

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