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The Bronze Drums and the Earrings

Volume One of A Traveller’s Story of Vietnam’s Past.

ByTan PhamSonla Pham

A Google search for a book on Vietnamese history will result in an overwhelming number about the war which ended in 1975. This book offers an overview of Vietnamese history from prehistory to the present day and is written for people interested in history from a travellers’ perspective. It specifically focuses on the period from 700 to 111 BCE. It discusses briefly the origin of the Vietnamese, the three characters which shaped its early history: the Hùng kings – the founders of Vietnam An Dương Vương, Zhao Tuo and the battles involved during the transfer of power from one to the next. The final battle ended the country’s autonomy and placed the country under Chinese dynastic rule for one thousand years to the 10th century. It also tells the stories of the mythical Four Immortals, the bronze drums manufactured in the north, and the earrings produced in the central and southern parts of the country. It recounts the tragic love story of the Magic Crossbow, the 2200-year-old fort of Cổ Loa and its builder, An Dương Vương. It describes the key battles including the invasion of the Yue kingdoms by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, his general, Zhao Tuo and ending of the Nan-yue kingdom. It has 71 photographs, maps and diagrams showing locations of interest to a traveller but limited to this period only. It also includes lines from some of the famous Vietnamese poems, songs and quotes, all translated in English. Sources of the books came from archaeological evidence, works by historians, ancient Chinese texts and Vietnamese records plus more recent academic papers and local newspaper articles. The book aims to draw a balance between telling stories which are engaging to a traveller and at the same time discussing historical findings that are of interest to serious scholars. It is Volume One of six volumes covering the history of Vietnam to 1954. The other volumes are to be published in the next few years.


Publication Date
Dec 3, 2021
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
Original author: Tan Pham, Cover design or artwork by: Sonla Pham, Edited by: Anna Rankin



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