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on February 28, 2012
The Beauty of Humanity Movement gave a feeling of a country and a culture, so well described to the senses, that one could imagine oneself there by sight, smells and taste. The present time poverty and struggles in which the book is primarily set are, when compared flashbacks to the past, a time of great hope for the present day people. The horrors of the past are spoken of in such a gentle and respectful tone that is universally understood and heartbreaking in its simplicity.

The characters encircling the life of the street cook, Old Man Hung, become like real people, the book gives the impression of the re-telling a real life story rather than being a novel. Camilla Gibb is an effortless storyteller. This is a very simple tale embroidered throughout with fine details and a gentle touch.

Through a culture so foreign and a past so unimaginable, it was a delight to find that the best things that make us human: love; sacrifice; forgiveness and most of all hope are found in the universal "Beauty of Humanity".
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on January 9, 2013
This book was hard to put down: the personal stories kept me engaged, and added a sense of humour and lightness that balanced out some of the more bleak and disturbing accounts of the horrors of the Vietnamese War (or the "American War" as it's referred to by the Vietnamese). Gibb deals sensitively with the issue of learning to navigate between two cultures, as one of the main characters, Maggie--an American-Vietnamese who has returned to the country of her early childhood-- seeks the story of her missing father, a revolutionary artist who never managed to rejoin his family when they fled Vietnam decades earlier. Gibb explores the issues faced historically, and more currently, by the Vietnamese and their Vietnamese-American counterparts, and manages to tease apart many of the complexities without coming across as pedantic. The resolutions of most of the main characters' challenges are a bit too tidy, and in several cases a bit predictable. However, as a whole I really enjoyed this book, and found that it did a great job of giving some insight into an incredible history (and collection of personal stories) that we seldom hear about. Warning: reading this book may leave you with an intense craving for Old Man Hung's mythical pho.
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on February 22, 2012
Reading The Beauty of Humanity Movement was like taking a few glimpses of the Vietnamese culture and history. It had a timelessness and sensuality that made it a good book in my books. My mouth watered the whole time too :))
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on September 23, 2010
This is a marvelous look at contemporary hanoi,with a brief look at it's history. Unfortunately i read it after my visit.i found vietnam a charming,vital,young country and this book definitely captures the ambiance that i experienced
It is a must read for anyone planning to visit hanoi.
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on June 1, 2015
Great book, especially as I am living in Vietnam, it brought so many things to life.
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on December 6, 2014
very good, engaging book. I enjoyed it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 31, 2010
I was quite disappointed in this novel. I had heard so much hype about it that I was very anxious to get a copy and read it. Perhaps my over-anxiousness was what ruined the story for me. For this review, I'll only re-type the synopsis from the dust jacket:

"Set in contemporary Vietnam, this is the story of a country undergoing momentous change, a story that transforms our notion of how family is defined-not always by bloodlines but by the heart. Tu' is a young tour guide working in Hanoi for a company called New Dawn, but while he leads tourists through his city, including American veterans on "war tours," he starts to wonder what it is they are seeing of Vietnam-and what they miss entirely. Maggie, who is Vietnamese by birth but has lived most of her life in the U.S., has returned to the country in search of clues to her dissident father's disappearance during the war. Holding the story together is Old Man Hung, who has survived decades of political upheaval and through it all has found a way to feed hope to the community of pondside dwellers among whom he lives.

This is a keenly observed and skilfully wrought novel about the reverberation of conflict through generations, the enduring legacy of art, and the redemption and renewal of long-lost love."
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