Allan Massie

The Teetering Domino

The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat In Vietnam

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FIFTY YEARS AGO this month the siege of Dien Bien Phu ended with the surrender of the French garrison there, a defeat that led to the French withdrawal from Indo-China, and, indirectly, to the American involvement in Vietnam, which itself would end twenty years later in a far more humiliating scuttle. Unlike the Americans, the French went down fighting, repelling their attackers with extraordinary courage until further resistance became impossible. Dien Bien Phu was ultimately a disaster, but an honourable one.

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