The Vietnamese victory over the French forces at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which ended almost a century of French colonial rule in Indochina, is one of the most famous events in the history of anticolonialism. How were the Vietnamese communists able to achieve this remarkable victory over a much more powerful colonial force? This is the question Chris Goscha seeks to answer in his new book, The Road to Dien Bien Phu: A History of the First War for Vietnam (Princeton UP, 2022). In doing so, Goscha re-enters the vexed debate about the relative importance of nationalism and communism in Vietnam’s struggle against foreign powers. And he puts forward a compelling argument about the importance of “war communism” to the Vietnamese victory over the French.
Chris Goscha is Professor of History and International Relations at the University of Quebec at Montreal, Canada, and a prize-winning author of works on the modern history of Vietnam.
Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: [email protected].