“David Lindsay’s novel gives us an entertaining and instructive account of the dramatic events that created the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam in the late eighteenth century. In this critical period of modern Vietnamese history, rebel soldiers, court officials, French soldiers of fortune and missionaries fought and negotiated with each other, until the Nguyen army (fights repeatedly) the band of rebel brothers who launched the Tay Son rebellion.
The author stays close to the historical facts, but he enlivens his account with characters drawn from famous works of Vietnamese literature. There are enough political intrigues, sex scenes, love affairs, and rowdy behavior by sailors, soldiers, and missionaries to satisfy any modern reader. At the same time, readers will gain insights into one of the most formative periods of modern Vietnamese history.
Highly recommended for anyone seeking greater understanding of modern Vietnam in the form of a riveting adventure story.”
Peter C. Perdue
Professor of Chinese History, Yale University
Author of two widely acclaimed books:
Exhausting the Earth:
State and Peasant in Hunan 1500-1850 A.D.
(Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1987)
China Marches West:
The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia
(Harvard University Press, 2005)
2006 Joseph Levenson Book Prize
“What a great book! It is truly powerful storytelling that conveys fascinating history. Your storytelling shows so much respect for the different cultures and people. … What I most loved was having the historical perspective between the three continents. Your knowledge of martial arts and music add enormously to the story. I appreciate how you handle the different cultural perceptions of sex and prostitution.”
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
Albemarle County, VA
“This work of historical fiction takes the reader to three continents to reveal the global connections behind the life and times of late eighteenth-century Vietnam. Although a product of Lindsay’s imagination, it is informed by the author’s diligent historical research, his knowledge of local customs, and many imagined, but plausible, conversations. The work climaxes in the step-by-step story of the Tayson Rebellion. Lindsay has created a suspenseful and unforgettable account, which results in a pleasing introduction to an important period.”
Beatrice “Betsy” Bartlett
Professor Emeritus, Chinese History, Yale University
Author of Monarchs and Ministers, The Grand Council in Mid-Ch’ing China, 1723-1820
University of California Press, 1991
David Lindsay’s The Tay Son Rebellion does for Vietnam what Clavell’s Shogun did for Japan in creating a meticulously researched history of a much misunderstood and under-recognized country. Most Americans have little or incorrect knowledge of Vietnam. Lindsay integrates his very plausible story with a vivid clarification of the history and culture of a society continuously challenged by other countries, large and small throughout the last two thousand years.
His characters give us much to consider when we learn of the country’s ability to preserve and value the fundamentals of their culture and history while absorbing nourishing aspects of foreign invaders.
Like Jade River, the Vietnamese have learned to survive, accepting fate as a way of life, yet holding true to their beliefs rooted in Confucianism and filial piety. For this reader, it was more than a good read, it was an epiphany.
Senior Human Resource Specialist, Yale University
“The Tay Son Rebellion was enjoyable reading bringing back many good memories of my grandmother telling us such stories. It was also eerie as well as sometimes, it was confusing what is fiction and what was real. Sometimes it felt like I was listening to my Grandmother again. As a historical novel, it is great providing so much information. I like that at times, it has a martial art feel to it and at times romantic.
The book is not only about the Tay Son period, it is also about the history of Vietnam. The author finds every opportunity to tell about other important historical events as well. I really liked how even in the conversations of your characters, you inserted bits of Vietnamese history, so I learned a lot while enjoying the story.
The first time I read the manuscript was very slow, because I am Vietnamese, and I wanted to check on your facts on history I didn’t know well, which repeatedly turned out to be correct. Thank you for letting me read it.”
Bookkeeper and Office Manager
New Haven, CT
“Your writing gives the reader an opening to see 18th Century “Vietnam.” The Tay Son Rebellion dislodges 20th century media images of Vietnam by offering a glimpse of the Vietnamese spirit alive on the land with a depth of field in time and temperament. People, with humility and reverence, or with duplicity and greed, stand in their own struggle in their unique natural and political landscapes.
I share in the lingering psychic guilt from my generation’s part in the saga of the Vietnam War, and in our nation’s collective sense of “failure to win.” Somehow, The Tay Son Rebellion delivers a respite to confusion with greater understanding as a healing balm. Thank you for this book.”
Executive Director, Gray Is Green
“This book is a very engaging read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having had the opportunity to read a much earlier draft some 20 years ago I can say the novel has reached a very pleasing level of maturity in the interim. I felt educated, entertained and appreciative at the close. Incorporating material from different corners of the world during the same time period gave added depth and context to the story. And it also reminded me never to go into politics. This novel would make a great audiobook.
The martial arts scenes and the marine battles provided yet another dimension to the novel, adding to its already high quality. Clearly the author has had first hand experience in both these areas and has generously leaned on those experiences in order to produce such realistic details. He has struck a good balance in the level of detail – enough to allow one to develop a vivid mental picture of the scenes, yet not so much as to prompt one to skip passages.”
Raymond S. Farinato
Aikido Shihan (6th Dan master teacher)
PhD physical chemist, Adjunct Professor
Earth & Environmental Engineering
My language tutor, Huỳnh Sanh Thông, who passed away in 2008, was a Lecturer at Yale in Vietnamese Studies and the Director of Yale’s Southeast Asian Refugee Project. Around 1986, he read an earlier draft of this book. To my great relief, he found my portrayals of Vietnamese acceptable and enjoyable.
He said, “It is a good book, and well written. But is too much like Michener, and not enough like Clavell.”
I was relieved and delighted.
From “Acknowledgements and Gratitude”
at the end of The Tây Sơn Rebellion