The First Vietnam War: Colonial Conflict and Cold War Crisis

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Overview

How did the conflict between Vietnamese nationalists and French colonial rulers erupt into a major Cold War struggle between communism and Western liberalism? To understand the course of the Vietnam wars, it is essential to explore the connections between events within Vietnam and global geopolitical currents in the decade after the Second World War.

In this illuminating work, leading scholars examine various dimensions of the struggle between France and Vietnamese revolutionaries that began in 1945 and reached its climax at Dien Bien Phu. Several essays break new ground in the study of the Vietnamese revolution and the establishment of the political and military apparatus that successfully challenged both France and the United States. Other essays explore the roles of China, France, Great Britain, and the United States, all of which contributed to the transformation of the conflict from a colonial skirmish to a Cold War crisis.

Taken together, the essays enable us to understand the origins of the later American war in Indochina by positioning Vietnam at the center of the grand clash between East and West and North and South in the middle years of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

Few Americans realize that the U.S. war in Vietnam was preceded by an equally destructive war waged by French troops attempting to reestablish French colonial domination over the country after Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnamese independence in Hanoi in 1945. Even fewer Americans are aware of the extent of U.S. involvement in the French war, and are equally ignorant of the astonishing extent to which Americans began their war in Vietnam from the same mistaken assumptions as the French, repeating many of the same errors of judgment as the French. This new collection will do much to dispel that ignorance.
— C. L. Yates

Journal of Military History

Offers a well written, important step toward a refocus on the international context of an important Cold War conflict.
— Douglas Porch

Robert J. McMahon
In this important book an impressive international group of historians sheds fresh light on the First Indochina War. The years 1945 to 1954 are not just a crucial, formative period for the Vietnamese-American relationship, but also a significant chapter in the international history of the twentieth century. This work will prove most welcome to scholars and general readers alike.
Christopher Goscha
The most important contribution in decades to the international history of the First Vietnam War. These essays by leading specialists show how the Indochina War connected key participants and historical forces in the making of the post-1945 international system. This book belongs in the library of anyone interested in the Cold War, decolonization, Asian history, Vietnamese studies, and international history.
Robert K. Brigham
A fresh collection of stimulating and impressive essays on the First Vietnam War. Lawrence and Logevall have brought together the leading scholars of the period in what will be essential reading for anyone interested in colonialism and the early Cold War.
George C. Herring
A splendid collection of essays based on sources from across the world and covering a wide range of topics. An indispensable addition to the literature on the First Vietnam War.
Melvyn P. Leffler
The First Vietnam War beautifully illustrates the complex interplay between the emerging Cold War, the disintegrating colonial order, and the vibrant social, political, and cultural forces inside Indochina. The volume confirms the promise of the new international history­-multi-archival, multi-national, and multi-causal.
Choice - C. L. Yates
Few Americans realize that the U.S. war in Vietnam was preceded by an equally destructive war waged by French troops attempting to reestablish French colonial domination over the country after Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnamese independence in Hanoi in 1945. Even fewer Americans are aware of the extent of U.S. involvement in the French war, and are equally ignorant of the astonishing extent to which Americans began their war in Vietnam from the same mistaken assumptions as the French, repeating many of the same errors of judgment as the French. This new collection will do much to dispel that ignorance.
Journal of Military History - Douglas Porch
Offers a well written, important step toward a refocus on the international context of an important Cold War conflict.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674023925
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,249,187
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Atwood Lawrence is Associate Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin.

Fredrik Logevall is Professor of History at Cornell University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

1. Introduction

Mark Atwood Lawrence and Fredrik Logevall

Part I. The First Vietnam War in History

2. Making Sense of the French War: The Postcolonial Moment and the First Vietnam War, 1945-1954

Mark Philip Bradley

3. Vietnamese Historians and the First Indochina War

Lien-Hang T. Nguyen

Part II. From One War to Another

4. Franklin Roosevelt, Trusteeship, and Indochina: A Reassessment

Stein Tonnesson

5. Creating Defense Capacity in Vietnam, 1945-1947

David G. Marr

6. Forging the "Great Combination": Britain and the Indochina Problem, 1945-1950

Mark Atwood Lawrence

7. French Imperial Reconstruction and the Development of the Indochina War, 1945-1950

Martin Thomas

Part III. Colonialism and Cold War

8. Ho Chi Minh and the Strategy of People's War

William J. Duiker

9. The Declining Value of Indochina: France and the Economics of Empire, 1950-1955

Laurent Cesari

10. France, the United States, and Indochina

Marilyn B. Young

Part IV. The End of the French War and the Coming of the Americans

11. Assessing Dien Bien Phu

John Prados

12. China and the Indochina Settlement at the Geneva Conference of 1954

Chen Jian

13. After Geneva: The French Presence in Vietnam, 1954-1963

Kathryn C. Statler

14. Chronicle of a War Foretold: The United States and Vietnam, 1945-1954

Andrew J. Rotter

Notes

Contributors

Index

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