In 2016, the Journal of Vietnamese Studies published a review by Adam Fforde of an edited book on Vietnamese politics by Jonathan London. It was quite a critical review. Fforde identified a number of weaknesses with the volume, as well as with individual contributions, including a tendency not to situate arguments within a wider literature; contradictory interpretation of empirics, assuming what needs to be demonstrated, and making assertions without evidence. Towards the end of the review, Fforde bemoaned the fact that the volume contributors were, in his words, allowed to go “their own way”. He continued: “This is unfortunate. They should have been locked in a room and forced to argue it out. There is a need for a decent and likely very noisy argument about how best to analyse Vietnamese politics”. Fforde’s challenge is the stepping off point for this article.