Vietnam & the American Century
Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family
by Duong Van Mai Elliott
Oxford University Press, 1999
(608 pages; $30.00, cloth)
reviewed by Greg Metzger
The turn of the century has occasioned a host of publications examining the meaning of our times. As would be expected, a great many are focused on the “American Century.” As Christians we welcome the opportunity for an “examination of conscience,” as Pope John Paul II has called the period before the new millenium. Yet some of us are troubled by the myopic nature of many Western takes on this century. There seems to be, particularly in American media, a sense that this century should be seen as the triumph of American values and an assumption that those values are always good for the world. From this perspective the war in Yugoslovia was a perfect cap to the American century, showing as it did the triumph of American technology and the punishment of rulers who resist “pluralistic democracy.” In this context of heightened triumphalism it is helpful to see how this century looks from a non-Western viewpoint.
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