Bernard Fall

Author of The Viet Minh Regime (1956), Le Viet Minh, 1945-1960 (1960), Street Without Joy (1961), The Two Viet Nams (1963), Viet Nam Witness (1966), Hell in a Very Small Place (1966), and Last Reflections on a War (1967), and editor with Marcus Raskin of The Viet Nam Reader (1967), Bernard Fall was an acknowledged authority on Vietnam and the wars fought there. Born in 1926, Fall served in World War II with the French underground until the liberation, and then with the French army until 1946. He was a research analyst at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal and worked for the United Nations in the International Tracing Service. He came to the United States in 1951 on a Fulbright Scholarship, earning an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at Syracuse University. He first went to Vietnam in 1953 to do research for his doctorate and returned for the sixth time in 1966 on a Guggenheim Fellowship. When not in Vietnam, he was a professor of international relations at Howard University.

Fall was a complicated man with a passion for Vietnam. He saw both wars there as tragedies. Although profound concern about communism in Indochina softened his criticism of both France and the United States, Fall held to the rightfulness of an Indochina free of foreign domination, whether it be French, American, Chinese, or Russian. A critic of both French colonialism and American intervention, Fall perceived clearly between the policies of governments and the human beings caught in between. Fall combined fastidious scholarship with a humane writing style. He wanted to see the war as it was experienced by those fated to fighting it and he wrote sensitively about their travails. He loved the Vietnamese people and had great respect and esteem for the forces of the Vietminh and National Liberation Front (NLF). On February 21, 1967, Bernard Fall was killed in the field with a United States Marine Corps unit when an NLF booby trap exploded.

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