This essay reviews the study of Vietnamese politics, specifically the debates about Vietnamese nationalism that have preoccupied scholars. The field has undergone two growth spurts——one in the mid 1960s and the other since the mid 1980s. These periods of growth were precipitated by Cold War politics and political developments in the United States and Vietnam, and the debates on Vietnamese nationalism evolved in a way that corresponded to trends in the field as a whole. When the field shifted, the tone of the debates and the major arguments advanced also shifted. Clearly, politics has had a deep impact not only on the development of the field but also on its scholarship.

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