U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Vietnam Demarcation Line and Demilitarized Zone. [Washington, D.C,1957] Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/89695318/.

Vietnamese Newspapers Shed Light on Failed Nation Building

“The research profile of our mid-size Canadian university is buoyed by . . . its access to libraries like CRL.”

Historian Geoffrey Stewart’s research centers on a little-known period following Vietnam's partition in 1954: the years when a Special Commissariat for Civic Action attempted to establish a viable and independent nation in the South. Stewart notes that the library at his home institution—Western University, in Ontario, Canada—does not collect specialized sources on Southeast Asia. “The research profile of our mid-size Canadian university is buoyed by the library’s interlibrary loan service and its access to libraries like CRL. In my case, we have no holdings of Vietnamese newspapers or Vietnamese-language source material.”

Stewart’s book, published by Cambridge University Press in 2017, is: Vietnam’s Lost Revolution: Ngo Dinh Diem’s Failure to Build an Independent Nation, 1955–1963. Vietnamese newspapers held by CRL helped Stewart uncover information on the Civic Action program, an ambitious nation-building project “which aimed to transform the southern half of Vietnam into a viable, non-communist entity capable of standing independently among the nations of the so-called free world.” The program, espoused by the president of the first Republic of Vietnam prior to his assassination in 1963, “enlisted government cadres at the village level to rally the people to participate in community rural development projects which would establish the institutions and infrastructure required to make South Vietnam a viable state.”

Jan 2017