Ho Chi Minh: A Biography

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Overview

Ho Chi Minh is one of the towering figures of the twentieth century, considered an icon and father of the nation by many Vietnamese. Pierre Brocheux's biography of Ho Chi Minh is a brilliant feat of historical engineering. In a concise and highly readable account, he negotiates the many twists and turns of Ho Chi Minh's life and his multiple identities, from impoverished beginnings as a communist revolutionary to his founding of the Indochina Communist Party and the League for the Independence of Vietnam, and ultimately to his leadership of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and his death in 1969. Biographical events are adroitly placed within the broader historical canvas of colonization, decolonization, communism, war, and nation building. Brocheux's vivid and convincing portrait of Ho Chi Minh goes further than any previous biography in explaining both the myth and the man, as well as the times in which he was situated.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam emerges as an appealing but still somewhat enigmatic figure in this impressionistic biography. French historian Brocheux (The Mekong Delta) notes the complexity of Ho (1890-1969): a sometimes unorthodox revolutionary who combined Leninist theory with Confucian moralism; a cosmopolitan-he spent much of his youth in Europe-who admired French culture and a nationalist who battled French imperialism; and a man of immense personal charm, whom smitten acquaintances likened to Charlie Chaplin and a warmhearted Mr. Chips. Brocheux himself seems rather taken with his subject, and regales readers with stories of Uncle Ho's modesty and humility, his fitness regimen, his homespun wisdom and prison poetry, his conciliatory disposition and his brimming solicitude for peasants, subordinates, political opponents and enemy POWs. The author struggles to reconcile this humane sage with the grim Stalinism of the regime he founded, ultimately finding Ho a tragic figure "crushed under... an implacable system that he had helped put in place through his indisputable charisma." Unfortunately, perhaps because of the inaccessibility of documentary sources, Brocheux's account is too brief and haphazard-the entire Vietnam War is disposed of in a few pages-to shed much light on this central conundrum of Ho's life. Photos. (Mar. 1) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A noted French scholar of colonial and contemporary Vietnam, Brocheux (The Mekong Delta) has written a fascinating account of Ho Chi Minh the man (born Nguyen Sinh Cung in 1890) and "Uncle Ho" the myth. Culling a number of obscure resources, Brocheux pieces together the enigmatic life of a person who changed identities and personas as he worked toward his dream of an independent and free Vietnam. Born to a peasant family just as the French invaders had finally managed to conquer the northern provinces, Ho would grow up to become a Communist revolutionary and ultimately the leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam until his death in 1969. Brocheux examines Ho's life in the broader context of the events influencing Vietnam between his birth and death, e.g., the conflicts within the worldwide Communist movement. Recommended for academic libraries, this book includes a time line and chronology to help readers make sense of this complex historical figure.
—Patti C. McCall
From the Publisher
"The founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam emerges as an appealing but still somewhat enigmatic figure in this impressionistic biography."
-Publishers Weekly

"A noted French scholar of colonial and contemporary Vietnam, Brocheux (The Mekong Δ) has written a fascinating account of Ho Chi Minh the man (born Nguyen Sinh Cung in 1890) and 'Uncle Ho' the myth."
-Patti C. McCall, Library Journal

"...the most sensitive treatment of Ho's complex personality, as well as iconic status, that I have read to date. Brocheaux gives us his on interpretation of Ho while avoiding the temptation to extemporize in a quasi-fictional manner."
-David G. Marr, Pacific Affairs

"...a must for anyone fascinated with Southeast Asia and the Vietnam wars." —CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521850629
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Pierre Brocheux is retired Professor of History at Université de Paris VII – Denis Diderot. His many publications include Une Histoire économique du Viet Nam, 1850–2007 (2009) and, with Daniel Hemery, Indochina: An Ambiguous Colonization, 1858–1954 (2010).

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Table of Contents

1. In search of a future; 2. A missionary of revolution; 3. Under the Sword of Damocles; 4. Father of the nation; 5. The force of circumstance; 6. Epilogue: a man at the interface between two worlds.

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