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Street Without Joy (1961)

de Bernard B. Fall

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3891149,194 (4.23)14
In this classic account of the French war in Indochina, Bernard B. Fall vividly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of the savage eight-year conflict in the jungles and mountains of Southeast Asia from 1946 to 1954. The French fought well to the last, but even with the lethal advantages of airpower, they could not stave off the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists, who countered with a hit-and-run campaign of ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids. Defeat came at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, setting the stage for American involvement and opening another tragic chapter in Vietnam's history.… (mais)
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Fall, a Resistance fighter in World War 2, brings uncommonly acquired insights and knowledge to events witnessed in French Indo-China as a European colonial power enters the quagmire of battling against a people's army of revolution and liberation.
  Top.Notch.Hill | Dec 20, 2019 |
The book was interesting to read and the individual chapters compelling. The French were always two steps behind and were hopelessly mismatched. The amazing thing is how long they actually did stay considering the difficulites. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
Classic. An overview of first War in Vietnam. Tragic story of French failure in doomed attempt to retain colonial empire in Indochina. ( )
  clarkland | Jan 5, 2016 |
Military history of the French defeat in Indochina, written when American involvement was just beginning to ramp up. If you want to learn about a pointless, painful, and slow defeat, driven by French imperialist assumptions and indifference to the question of whether anybody actually wanted the French in control, this book tells that story, with plenty of grim details as the deaths mount in fives and tens, day in and day out. The seeds of the subsequent American defeat were also there, and as apparent to Fall in prospect as they are in restrospect. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Aug 18, 2015 |
I found "Street Without Joy" fascinating - a cross between the summation of after-action battle reports and a history book outlining the French debacle in Indochina. Readers clearly see that Laos and Vietnam were trying to free themselves from French colonial rule after World War II...the French, Chinese and Japanese were all defeated and kicked out during the war; the author maintains that if France would have granted both Laos and Vietnam their independence in 1945 - so many lives could have been saved.

It was obvious that the French did not have enough troops, equipment and supplies to support their mission within Indochina,and were not trained or ready to fight a guerrilla style jungle war. Conventional thinking and fighting were no match against an elusive enemy in the thick jungles, who chose the time and place for battle. As time went on, there were so many lessons to be learned and opportunities for change, yet the French insisted on the status quo - going so far as to train their Vietnamese allies in those same methods and tactics. As a result, almost 100,000 French soldiers lost their lives during their 8 year battle against those forces loyal to Ho Chi Minh.

When the French were defeated in 1954, Laos received sovernty and Vietnam was split at the 17th parallel; the southern half of the country still opposing those communist of the North. The United States came into the picture soon afterwards, providing advisors, equipment and funds to support the South's battle against the North Communists. However, there was no interest in studying the French battles and learning from their mistakes, so, history was to repeat itself...and so it did!

When Bernard Fall published this book in 1961, he states in it that the South had already lost the war with the North and cites examples of why it will happen - including outright lies by both the press and government to name a few.

I learned so much from reading "Street Without Joy" and feel that if the U.S. Government would have listened to this author or read his work, then acting upon the many lessons learned, I might not have had to serve in that war as an infantry soldier during 1970 and many of those 58,000+ soldiers might still be living.

I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn more about Indochina and the French occupation.

John Podlaski, author
Cherries - A Vietnam War Novel ( )
  JPodlaski | Oct 11, 2014 |
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War came to Indochina in the wake of the crumbling of the European colonial empires in Asia during World War II.
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The arrival of the Air Force's B-26's also helped consolidate the situation, although not in the way it was expected. By the time they intervened, combat had reached the hand-to-hand stage in many places; the intervening aerial strafing froze everyone flat on the ground, enemy and friend intermingled and often only feet apart. As the silvery birds swooped down in a deafening roar of engines, the bursts of their nose guns raking the high grass like strong gusts of wind, men from both camps looked up at the sky in fear and hatred of blind fate which dealt death in almost impartial fashion. One of the radios of Headquarters Co. was heard to say, as if to settle a long-standing argument: "This goes to show you again-this whole aerial warfare business isn't quite perfected...ce n'est pas encore au point."
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In this classic account of the French war in Indochina, Bernard B. Fall vividly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of the savage eight-year conflict in the jungles and mountains of Southeast Asia from 1946 to 1954. The French fought well to the last, but even with the lethal advantages of airpower, they could not stave off the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists, who countered with a hit-and-run campaign of ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids. Defeat came at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, setting the stage for American involvement and opening another tragic chapter in Vietnam's history.

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