Review Category : Blog

If a city’s fortunes can be judged by the number of cranes dotting its landscape, Ho Chi Minh City has high hopes. Posters stuck to construction sites advertise lavish apartment blocks and landscaped shopping malls under development. A metro system, currently being built, promises comprehensive public transport at last. Change is in the air—and the city’s exceptionally youthful population, over half of whom are younger than 35, are leading the way.

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The United States is continuing to strengthen its commercial relationship with Vietnam, a rapidly-growing country that offers U.S. businesses and workers substantial opportunities for expanded trade and investment, promoting economic growth and development, and supporting jobs.  U.S.-Vietnam goods trade totaled $451 million in 1995, the year the United States and Vietnam normalized diplomatic relations, and since then has increased nearly a hundredfold to $45 billion.

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Wolverine Worldwide exemplifies a sharp shift among American footwear and garment producers away from China toward an emerging manufacturing hot spot: Vietnam. Over the past three years, the Rockford, Mich.-based maker of brands such as Keds, Hush Puppies and Saucony has more than doubled its production in the Southeast Asian nation, taking advantage of the lower labor costs there. Vietnam now constitutes nearly 30 percent of Wolverine’s output, while China’s share has fallen from 90 percent to 50 percent, company officials said.

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Though the novel can simply be read as fiction, those who know where to look will see that it is deeply informed by the literary history and theory that Nguyen has studied. Its opening sentence – “I am a spy, a sleeper, a man of two faces – is a homage to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Nguyen said the book is meant to be a critique with “something to offend everyone” and is, he hopes, a work that brings him closer to his ideal of writing criticism as fiction and fiction as criticism.

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Secretary Kerry said, “It is clear that we have turned some very important corners. There are hard choices still to make for our relationship to reach its full potential, but now we can say definitively, because so many Vietnamese and Americans themselves refuse to let our past define our future, Vietnam, a former adversary, is now a partner with whom we have developed increasingly warm, personal and national ties.” He and Ambassador Vinh spoke at the April 26-28, 2016 LBJ Presidential Library “The Vietnam War Summit.” The goal wass to shed definitive light on the war, and its lessons and legacy.

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