The Tay Son Uprising: Society and Rebellion in Eighteenth-Century Vietnam

Hardback: $56.00
ISBN-13: 9780824829841
Published: August 2006

Additional Information

306 pages | 10 illus.
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  • About the Book
  • “George Dutton has written the first detailed Western-language study of the Tây So’n movement, which permanently altered Vietnam’s political trajectory. But in so doing, he also provides a sensitive social and cultural analysis of the pre-1800 Vietnamese-speaking world as a whole, and indeed one of the most detailed descriptions of any late 18th-century society in Southeast Asia.” —Victor Lieberman, University of Michigan

    “It is difficult to overstate the significance of George Dutton’s terrific new book. The Tây So’n Uprising represents the first serious western-language account of the intricate sequence of political developments that define the Tây So’n era and that arguably mark the onset of modernity in Vietnam. In addition to providing a vividly evocative narrative of the complex political history of the period, Dutton offers lucid and judicious interpretations of the origins, evolution and downfall of the uprising and of its consequences for a wide range of social groups, political forces and ethnic communities. The level of research and historical craftsmanship is superb, and Dutton’s frequent reflections on relevant theoretical and historiographical issues make for fascinating reading. In short, this is a stunning accomplishment and a major contribution to the study of Vietnamese history and historiography.” —Peter Zinoman, University of California, Berkeley

    The Tây So’n uprising (1771–1802) was a cataclysmic event that profoundly altered the eighteenth-century Vietnamese political and social landscape. This groundbreaking book offers a new look at an important and controversial era. George Dutton follows three brothers from the hamlet of Tây So’n as they led a heterogeneous military force that ousted ruling families in both halves of the divided Vietnamese territories and eventually toppled the 350-year-old Lè dynasty. Supplementing Vietnamese primary sources with extensive use of archival European missionary accounts, he explores the dynamics of an event that affected every region of the country and every level of society. Tracing the manner in which the Tây So’n leaders transformed an inchoate uprising into a new political regime, Dutton challenges common depictions of the Tây So’n brothers as visionaries or revolutionaries. Instead, he reveals them as political opportunists whose worldview remained constrained by their provincial origins and the exigencies of ongoing warfare and political struggles.

  • About the Author(s)
    • George E. Dutton, Author

      George Dutton is a professor in the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • This is an extraordinary and brilliant book. For a reviewer, the only real problem is to find sufficient words of praise. I, for one, have never read an account of a major precolonial, preindustrial rebellion involving peasants—whether in Mexico, China or Algeria—that is more persuasive, or in more balanced command of all its multitudinous details, than this one. This book’s narrative . . . is convincing and lively. Its analysis . . . is cogent and reasonable. And the archival research upon which it is based . . . is simply superb.
      —Journal of Vietnamese Studies (2008)
    • A major contribution to the study of Vietnamese society during the eighteenth century and also reveals new prospects for further research.
      —International Journal of Asian Studies (5:1, 2008)
    • A splendid, important, and well-researched contribution to Vietnamese studies. More important, Dutton delves into previously poorly understood topics and in the process undermines many common narratives of the Vietnamese past. Scholars studying other parts of Southeast Asia, as well as those interested in Chinese and Japanese regional involvement, will benefit from this engaging and exceptional book.
      —IIAS Newsletter (Winter 2008)
    • Dutton has clearly written an authoritative work which will be a staple in both undergraduate and graduate classes on Vietnam for quite some time to come. He has done more than write a compelling account of the events of late eighteenth-century Vietnam. He has also given us a rare glimpse into the lives and hardships of average Vietnamese during this period.
      —Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (February 2008)
    • Dutton vividly paints the picture of a heterogeneous and antagonistic society, providing profound insights into a tumultuous period of Vietnamese history.
      —International Quarterly for Asian Studies (1:2, 2009)
    • Tay Son Uprising is a splendid work. George Dutton has contributed an important and well-researched work to Vietnamese studies. I hope that scholars studying other parts of Southeast Asia, will study this book as it gives an engaging and exceptional outlook. Dutton has written a commendable book indeed.
      —New Asia Books