The Vietnam War's Tragic Prologue

August 22, 2012 Topics: History Regions: FranceVietnam

The Vietnam War's Tragic Prologue

Mini Teaser: Before America’s Vietnam experience, there was the French ordeal there from the end of World War II to the utter humiliation at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. Fredrik Logevall chronicles this powerful history in his Embers of War.

I said, “I’d feel better if they hadn’t been smiling that same way at the French right up until 1954.”

“The French!” the boy exclaimed. “What the fuck were the French doing here?”

Thanks to Professor Logevall’s Embers of War, no one need ask that question again.

A. J. Langguth is professor emeritus at the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California. The author of Our Vietnam: The War 1954–1975 (Simon & Schuster, 2000), he was the Saigon bureau chief for the New York Times in 1965.

Pullquote: In the interim between world wars, Ho and his band of Vietnamese nationalists already had decided that the communism of Vladimir Lenin was their most dependable ally in fighting for liberation.Image: Essay Types: Book Review