South Viet Nam: The Women

"They twitter and sing," wrote Novelist Graham Greene of the women of South Viet Nam. In their diaphanous silk ao dais, they can readily appear as delicate and inconsequential as so many songbirds. In fact, Vietnamese women are birds of a very different feather. Heiresses of an ancient tradition of matriarchy, they have become, under the pressures of two decades of war, Asia's most emancipated women. They fight, politic, run businesses and their families and, through their husbands, probably control much of South Viet Nam's endemic corruption.

More than in most nations...