The French in Vietnam

"You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours,
but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win."
--Ho Chi Minh to the French, late 1940s

The name given by the French to one of the three major regions of Vietnam.

Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954)
The defeat was a harsh psychological blow to the French.

Leon Blum
One of the leading French socialists.

Dien Bien Phu: The Epic Battle America Forgot
by Howard R. Simpson
The fall of Dien Bien Phu ended French control of Indochina and opened the way to U.S. commitment to the area (and to U.S. mistakes of a similar nature). Simpson -- former U.S. consul general, novelist, and writer on defense matters -- was there as a USIA correspondent. His account, on the 40th anniversary of the battle, is personal, and includes many of his photos as well as photos from the Foreign Legion archives.

Bernard Fall
Author Bernard Fall was an acknowledged authority on Vietnam and the wars fought there.

French Indochina
French Indochina was a federation of French colonies and protectorates in Southeast Asia, part of the French colonial empire.

Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu
by Bernard B. Fall
The 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu ranks with Stalingrad and Tet for what it ended (imperial ambitions), what it foretold (American involvement), and what it symbolized: A guerrilla force of Viet Minh destroyed a technologically superior French army, convincing the Viet Minh that similar tactics might prevail in battle with the U.S.

In 1930s Indochina, a woman manages her rubber plantation but loses her French lover, a naval officer, to her adopted Indochinese daughter. The lush scenery is spectacular. Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Vincent Perez, and Jean Yanne.

The Lost Command
French soldiers fail courageously at Dien Bien Phu and go on to fight for a losing cause in Algeria. Writer: Nelson Gidding, from The Centurians by Jean Larteguy. Stars: Anthony Quinn, Alain Delon, and George Segal.

The Lover
An adolescent French girl becomes the lover of a well-to-do Chinese man in 1920s Saigon, but their love is forbidden by the social order of the era. Filmed in Vietnam. Not really a war movie, but well worth watching just for the spectacular Vietnam scenes. Writers: Gerard Brach and Jean-Jacques Annaud, from the novel by Marguerite Duras. Stars: Jane March and Tony Leung.

Navarre Plan
Henry Navarre was appointed commander of French forces in Indochina in May 1953.

The Quiet American
by Graham Greene
The setting is Saigon in the violent years when the French were desperately trying to hold their footing in the Far East. The main characters are a skeptical British journalist, his beautiful Vietnamese mistress, and an eager young American sent out by Washington on a mysterious mission. The story is deeply enriched by psychological tensions and battles of conflicting personalities. This great novel is of personal love, of physical danger, and of international rivalries.

Street Without Joy
by Bernard B. Fall
A military and political history of the pre-American conflict.

War Without A Front, The Memoirs of a French Army Nurse in Vietnam (Out of Print)
by Elisabeth Sevier
The Memoirs of A French Army Nurse serving in Indochina (Vietnam) from 1950-1953.