Customer Reviews for

Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu That Led America into the Vietnam War

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  • Posted March 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent analysis of the political background to the French and American involvement in French Indochina.

    If the reader is interested in a better understanding of the political background and results of the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu then this is an excellent choice. If, however, one's interest runs more toward military history then he/she would be better served by purchasing Bernard Fall's classic work "Hell in a Very Small Place". The author's description of the siege is rather cursory and the maps are so sketchy as to be next to useless.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The most outstanding and comprehensive book on the subject matter

    This simply ts an outstanding book by any standard of measure. If you want to observe political. diplomatic, and military machinations taking place in which less powerful people and countries comply with the threats (real and imagined) made by the more powerful. Here we have a self-appointed guardian in our own country in the Secretary of State (dulles) who is going to prevent the spread of communism no matter what the cost. Additionally, it is clear that he cares not a whit about how Britain or France feels as long as they dance to his music. You also have a country who has been a colonial power in possession of the disputed territories from the gift, by sleight of hand,in which a form of independence seems to be granted to Vietnam as a "member State of the French Union." In fact, this was nothing more than a brushoff. France retained the colonial position. Then you have Dien Bien Phu. A lovely, lush, green valley in the Northwest of North Vietnam. You cannot fight a guerilla war from a stable, dug-in, fixed in place defensive positions. Reinforced concrete and steel bunkers just make a better, more exciting abd more expensive target to knock out on the way in. Sure, the Viet-Minh were going to lose a lot of men but tey were prepared to do so. The were dedicated, pumped up, and fighting for their slice of land to live and raise their family on, and that was their highest aspiration, taking care of their family. Anyone who reads this book and fails to see the motivation and Espirit de Corps these people possessed is truly a fool. These people were fully prepared to die for what they believed in. This is a book you will keep for reference and will read several times more, We could have saved so many lives if we had just listened to the lessons known from History. This book is one of the best I have ever read. Lastly, At the meeting prior to and after the tentative agreement, Le Duc Tho, the Viet-Minh chief negotiator told the French rep to his face thst, " the people of Southvietnam will win this war. If you kill one hundred of our soldier and we kill only one, we will win the wsr. General Giap was asked the same question. He took a long look outside his room and replied, "we will win. He was then asked how long he would continue to fight and he responded,"maybe ten years, maybe a hundred years and maybe more, bu we will win whatever the cost. These people were clearly motivated, General Giap said, "as many years as it takes and for however long it lasts.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2010

    VALLEY OF DEATH DIEN BIEN PHU WAS DOOR TO US VIETNAM

    THIS BOOK PUTS VIETNAM IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. A MUST REED. IT SHOWS THE MILITARY BLUNDERS AND INFIGNTING BY THE FRENCH GOVT AND GENERALS, THE US FEAR OF THE DOMINO EFFECT IF VIETNAM FEL, ENGLAND LIKE FRANCE TRYING TO HOLD ON TO COLONIALIES, RUSSIA AND CHINA NOT WANTING TO HAVE THE WAR EXPAND FOR FEAR OF US NUKES, THE FALLOUT FROM KOREA THAT MADE US INVOLVEMENT IMPOSSIBLE FROM EISHENHOWER'S, CONGRESS" AND THE PENTAGON'S VIEW. GENERAL RIDGEWAY(KOREA) LED THE CHARGE TO AVOIDE SENDING TROUPS.
    SO, WHEN DIEN BIEN PHU FELL, DULLES SAID IT MAY HAVE BEEN A "BLESSING IN DISGUSE" MEANING NOW US COULD TAKE OVER THE WAR.
    MANY INTERSTING FACTS: EISEHNOWER OKAYED MATERIEL BUT FELT THE FRENCH VIOLATED BASIC MILITARY PRINCIPLES GIVING THE HIGH GROUND TO THE VIETS.
    ONLY 22% OF THE TROUPS WERE FRENCH. THE REST GERMANS, MOROCCANS, ALGERIANS AND VIETNAMESE.
    THERE WAS NO ESCAPE PLAN OTHER THAN AIR AND TROOPS CONTINUED TO BE AIR DROPPED AFTER THE BATTLE WAS LOST.
    THE TREATEMENT OF THE WOUNDED BY VIETS WAS GENOCIDE.THE LACK OF EVACUATION BY THE FRENCH WAS CRIMINAL AND THE DELAY BY GENEVA TO RESCUE THE WOUDED ON BOTH SIDES WAS A VIOLATION GENEVA ACCORDS ON TREATING THE WOUDED, MOST OF WHOM DIED OF IFECTION OR THE FORCED MARCH BY THE VIETS.
    NIXON, DULLES, JOHNSON ET AL WERE ALL INOLVED IN THIS MATTER. NIXON WANTED TO BOMB THE NORTH.
    VIET LOSSES WERE OVER 300m V 50m FRENCH,
    GENERAL NAVARE NEVER HAD LED TROUPS IN BATTLE. HIS PLAN DID NOT REALISTICALLY TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE WEATHER, ENEMY, TERRAIN AND A CONTINGENCY FOR SUCH A HIGH RISK GAMBLE. HE UNDERESTIMATED HIS ENEMY.
    A MAJOR BATTLE THAT HAS HAD MAJOR IMPACT TO THIS DAY, I.E. KOREA.
    THIS BOOK IS AMAZING, RIVETING AND EDUCATIONAL. IT IS NOT AN 'EASY ' READ BUT ONE THAT AT TIMES IS SHOCKING MILITARILY, POLIICALLY, AND INTERNATIONALLY.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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