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For many Americans in the early 1960s, Vietnam was a far-away place of which they had little knowledge. Soon, thousands of young American men and women would find themselves on the other side of the globe, fighting and, in many cases, living side by side with the Vietnamese. To lessen the culture shock, the US Department of Defense prepared a publication along the lines of the instructions for servicemen issued in the Second World War.This rather unassuming Pocket Guide was designed to instil in the soldier an understanding of and respect for the Vietnamese, so as to gain their support. In less than 8,000 words, the author of the Pocket Guide creates a highly sympathetic account of Vietnam's history, culture, politics, infrastructure, geography, and people. The author stresses shared values common to both the United States and Vietnam.Viewed from the intervening distance of four decades, this is a fascinating comment on the political aspirations of a former age. It remains a compelling introduction to the enduring qualities of Vietnamese culture.
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