After the August Revolution in 1945, Vietnamese historian Đào Duy Anh was invited to teach history at a university that was established later that same year called the Hanoi University of Letters (Đại Học Văn Khoa Hà Nội)

He only taught for about a couple of months because the university soon shut down, but his students were apparently so impressed by his teaching that they urged him to write and publish a book based on his lecture notes.

Đào Duy Anh agreed to do so and by March 1946 the book was complete. It was called The Origins of the Vietnamese Nation (Nguồn gốc dân tộc Việt Nam).

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This book was eventually published by the World Publishing House (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới) in Hanoi in 1950, however I have never seen a copy of that version of this book. Instead, the one copy that I have found was reproduced at some point in Saigon for internal use by teachers and students at the Saigon Normal University (Đại Học Sư Phạm Sài Gòn).

In 1957 Đào Duy Anh produced a book on Vietnamese history called The Ancient History of Vietnam (Lịch Sử Cổ Đại Việt Nam) that contained a section on the origins of the Vietnamese nation.

However, that section and the earlier book of the same name are different. More specifically, it is clear that the 1946/1950 book represents an earlier version of Đào Duy Anh’s ideas about ancient Vietnamese history, one which he subsequently built on and presented with more sophistication in his 1957 book.

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So what were Đào Duy Anh’s early ideas about ancient Vietnamese history? He states in some prefatory remarks that he wrote in 1946 that his goal in writing that early book was to attempt to provide young people with a realistic understanding of the origins of the Vietnamese, so that they could move beyond the “superstitious” stories about dragons and fairies that earlier texts had employed in discussing the earliest stages of Vietnamese history (. . . để xóa bỏ những điều mê tín với nguồn gốc Tiên Rồng. . .).

In his opening chapter, Đào Duy Anh summarized those stories, but then he went on to write about the past in ways that no Vietnamese historian had ever done before.

Essentially what he did was to try to document what the Vietnamese race was, where it came from, and how it had developed and changed over time.

For more on this, see the video below. To read this actual book, see the attached file below the video.

To read Đào Duy Anh’s 1946 book, click here: nguon-goc-dan-toc-vn.