e-book Street Without Joy: The French Debacle In Indochina (Stackpole Military History Series)

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We did. How they struggled. How they lost. It was also written real time. It was published in Many years before we fully committed ground troops to what was to become a quagmire. But they were French. Why should we pay attention to someone who lost? We are Americans. We don't pay attention to any This is not a book.

We don't pay attention to anyone else because we know better don't we. We could have read and learned from these men. We lost an opportunity because of our arrogance. This was their strategy. They were solidly in power when the French made their return to Indochina. Trying desperately to reclaim their empire they ran into something much more powerful The Japanese had shown that European colonial powers could be defeated. Thus they could lose again. The Viet Minh were supported by the populace like no French puppet could. The French fielded the largest army since the World War.

The army was a road bound behemoth that tried to pin down an elusive enemy. Battles were fought. Some won. Some lost.

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Meanwhile battles across the world were being lost to the communists. Many more.

The sanctuaries developed allowing the Viet Minh to hide and lick their wounds and frustrate their French antagonists. Experienced Chinese and Russian advisors came to assist the Vietnamese in their struggles. The French were losing They rolled the dice at Dien Bien Phu and got snake eyes. Their colonial venture was lost. The biggest loser was us though. We paid no attention to their lessons. Our arrogance cost us dearly. We have a habit of not listening or attending to those who have gone before us.

Maybe next time we will. The first third of the book was quite boring and old-fashioned - description of French army actions in Indochina with old diagrams reminded me of weird military dictionary. If I didnt happen to be patient reader, I would have probably closed the book after this part. Now I'm glad I did not. The middle part started to be finally interesting; I recommend especially all chapters entitled as "Diary". In this first-hand account, Fall proved to be a great and thoughtful observer.


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Many of his conclusio The first third of the book was quite boring and old-fashioned - description of French army actions in Indochina with old diagrams reminded me of weird military dictionary. Many of his conclusions are remarkably accurate, especially when one considers the limited access to information beyond the French ones. Jul 02, Chi Pham rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. Picking up the book knowing full well that I am going to counter military history at its best the first Indochina War for you , I did not expect the level of historical analysis offered by the author.

Having been raised in Vietnam and now reading the book from the enemy's perspective, I found the whole episode vindictive of my firm belief in the inevitable roles of the whole Vietnamese Communist movement in , as well as educational about tragedies that textbooks always fail to mention.

I al Picking up the book knowing full well that I am going to counter military history at its best the first Indochina War for you , I did not expect the level of historical analysis offered by the author. I also wonder how the political mood of the time changed because of such a warning: just like the French, the Americans were going to fail, miserably, in the Vietnam War. Deliberately detailed and incredibly thoughtful, this book is a must-read, even in , or for many years later.

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Apr 10, Maria rated it liked it Shelves: usmc-reading-list , overdrive-army , audio-books , history , military , non-fiction. Fall traveled extensively thru Indochina reporting on the French war. He was killed during the Americanization of the Vietnam War as he continued to document the region.

Why I started this book: I had a long flight so I downloaded several audio options.

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Why I finished it: Long flight back. I struggled with this title, mostly because I haven't studied the Vietnam War in detail to appreciate what a prophet Fall turned out to be. Bernard draws on first hand experience and documentary research in Paris to describe the slow defeat of France in the "vast empty spaces" of Vietnam's jungle and highlands to the light infantry of the Viet Minh. Fall describes the complete failure of heavy mechanized units in guerrilla warfare. Tied to the scanty road network, the Groupes Mobile were juggernauts, b Street Without Joy is the definitively account of the first Indo-China War, as France attempted to hold on to it's East Asian colony.

Tied to the scanty road network, the Groupes Mobile were juggernauts, but ones that could be avoided and lured into ambush by the Viet Minh. The epic destruction of G. M at the same time as Dien Bien Phu is the climax of the book, an account of outnumbered professionals calmly laying down their lives after the war is lost. Heavy units imply substantial logistics needs, and the second battle was the battle of the forts, as France distributed its forces in penny packets along the de Lattre line and strategic roads. These forts were ineffective at preventing mass Viet Minh infiltration, served as supply depots for the enemy when overrun individually and looted, and cost on average 3 to 4 men per km of road per day.

Multiply it out, and it comes to thousands of casualties just to hold static positions without any pacification effort. The part of the war that Fall thinks worked were the command groups, alliances of French specialists and Montagnard guerrillas to attack Viet Minh supply lines, but this force was inherently limited and difficult to scale.

Fall's book has the flaws of its strengths. The wonderful portraits of the men and women who fought are a romanticized version of the French empire. Bernard gets the problem of what he calls Revolutionary Warfare right, and the ways in which a motivated local force fighting for its own values will beat foreign occupiers, but doesn't extend the critique to the anti-communist project broadly speaking, or how Western democracies could defeat communism without becoming a mirror image of the enemy.

Ultimately, Fall was right, but there's little satisfaction in being a Cassandra, as the American military fought the same war as the French, but faster and louder.

[PDF] Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina (Stackpole Military History Series)

Apr 09, Aaron Crofut rated it it was amazing Shelves: war , vietnam , must-read. Fall's book on the First Indochina War France vs. Indeed, Fall's distinction between those two terms is extremely important. Technology cannot defeat ideology without going to extremes the Western World is unwilling to go to. Revolutionary wars must have popular support; mere acts of violence are not sufficient. If you cannot read the entire book, at the very least read the last chapter all of 12 pages.

This book certainly has implications for our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, though I believe some reviewers have not put enough thought into the matter. Afghanistan is a nightmare; those people have little faith in the Kabul administration, no particular desire to become Westernized, and a history of beating superpowers.

Street Without Joy

Really, that area is among the worst for us to be fighting. Iraq, having a different history and society, not to mention geography, was better suited to our efforts of beating Al Qaeda. Late in , the United States was effectively losing that conflict and large sections of Iraq were under AQ in Iraq's control. Iraqis long used to Western lifestyles found out the hard way what life would be like under strict Islamist rule. This, combined with the credible commitment in the Surge by the United States, helped lead to the Sunni Awakening.

Without popular support, AQ withered. Unfortunately, that victory has not been declared throughout the Muslim world, largely due to political considerations back home. The tactical considerations may be of less use for us civilians, but Fall's book should have been better studied prior to our involvement in Vietnam. This is a rich treasure. I highly recommend it, both for the narrative, the theory, and the questions it will prompt about our current foreign affairs.

Dec 21, Lee rated it liked it. Overall, this is a good book that takes the reader back to a time when Johnson still had not completely sunk into the morass. However, I struggled with what the book's narrative focus was.