Mining a wealth of archival sources in France and Vietnam, Pierre Brocheux constructs a fascinating picture of how French capital and technology transformed the Mekong Delta. By draining the swamps and encouraging a particular pattern of Vietnamese settlement, the French cultivated a volatile society, bound together by lines of credit and poised at the brink of social revolution. From the cutting of the first canals in the 1880s to the eruption of the Viet Cong’s insurgency in the 1950s, this book illuminates the subtle interactions between ecology and social change in a tropical delta. The Mekong Delta is valuable for students of the Vietnamese Revolution and for scholars of peasant movements around the globe. It fills a major gap in our knowledge of the social change that swept the great deltas of Southeast Asia.