The Mekong River and the Struggle for Indochina: Water, War, and Peace

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 - History - 264 pages
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Tracing the history of the Mekong River, this book shows how its conceptualization and utilization have been transformed in modern times, and particularly during the Vietnam war when the Mekong River and Mekong Project became political pawns. Nguyen concludes by examining the continuation of some of the Project's schemes by the independent Southeast Asian countries and regional powers.

The Mekong River links together the mainland countries of Southeast Asia in a vital geographic, but also economic and political, unit. Its historical trajectory coursed through kingdoms and colonies, and its physical presence and symbolism became more acute as it came closer to modern times. Tracing the history of the Mekong River, this book shows how its conceptualizations have been transformed in modern times, and particularly during the Vietnam War when the Mekong River and Mekong Project became political pawns.

In the 1950s, the decision was made to develop the river's resources to foster economic development for the four countries of the lower Mekong basin. The Mekong Project, as it came to be known, proposed the construction of a set of major dams on the mainstream and of numerous smaller ones on the tributaries to bring hydropower, flood control, irrigation, and other benefits to the riparian countries. The Project, however, was subverted to the needs of the Vietnam War. With the return of peace, the Mekong countries can re-examine the future of the river and its potential impact on the region. Nguyen concludes by examining the continuation of some of the Project's schemes by the independent Southeast Asian countries and regional powers. Scholars and researchers interested in Southeast Asian history and economic development, environmental history, and rural sociology will find this an important study.

 

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Contents

The Mekong River in PreColonial and Colonial History
3
War
47
The Mekong River in the Indochina Wars
49
President Johnsons Mekong Enterprise
97
From War to Peace
147
And Peace
197
The Greater Mekong Region
199
Epilogue
237
Selected Bibliography
243
Index
249
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

NGUYEN THI DIEU is Associate Professor of History at Temple University. An expert in Southeast Asian history, she has published in the Journal of World History, Etudes Indochinoises, and Afrique-Asie.

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