Censorship in Vietnam

Brave New World

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What does censorship do to a culture? How do censors justify their work? What are the mechanisms by which censorship—and self-censorship—alter people’s sense of time and memory, truth and reality? Thomas Bass faced these questions when The Spy Who Loved Us, his account of the famous Time magazine journalist and double agent Pham Xuan An, was published in a Vietnamese edition. When the book finally appeared in 2014, after five years of negotiations with Vietnamese censors, more than four hundred passages had been altered or cut from the text.

After the book was published, Bass flew to Vietnam to meet his censors, at least the half dozen who would speak with him. In Censorship in Vietnam, he describes these meetings and examines how censorship works, both in Vietnam and elsewhere in the world. An exemplary piece of investigative reporting, Censorship in Vietnam opens a window into the country today and shows us the precarious nature of intellectual freedom in a world governed by suppression.

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