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Anyone here ever read Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall?

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  • Anyone here ever read Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall?

    Iam a specialist in the French Indochina War and am quite an expert in the topic( I bet I know far more than any Ami could ever learn!). If you aren't familiar with th French War I recommend you read Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall. Here is a review:

    In this first hand account of the French war in Vietnam, Dr. Bernard Fall provides a critical analysis of French combat operations in a war that lasted from 1946 to 1954. Over 94,500 gallant, French soldiers died in this vain, yet valiant attempt to contain communism in Southeast Asia. What could and should we have learned from this tragedy?

    Fall gives detailed accounts of communist tactics and the results that accrued to French commanders who refused to recognize the fact that, "the (tactics) book," they had been schooled under simply did not apply in Vietnam. Amazingly, the U.S. then deployed our troops to Vietnam, with our own officers schooled by the same, "book!" Gallantry, esprit-de-corp, machismo, and/or faith in a righteous cause were no more effective against well-laid ambushes in the `60s and `70s than they were in the `40s and `50s. The lessons of history were there for the reading. Why we refused to heed them is a mystery that still calls for an answer.

    Street Without Joy is not a left-wing condemnation of western "imperialism," or, the evils of "intervention." Fall neither condemns nor condones the goal of containing communism. He merely analyzes reasons for the French defeat. There was no precedent for fighting a "revolutionary war," prior to the French experience. The same could not be said for the U.S. If the French defeat was borne of ignorance; America's came seemingly from arrogance.

    Included in the history of French military defeats, and occasional victories, are studies of such things as the role of women in the war and the decimation of a superbly equipped French task force by concerted, brilliantly conceived guerrilla activity by the Viet Minh. The role of the French Foreign Legion is examined, as is the history of the French desire to seek a set battlefield, which of course, they got in Dienbenphu, to their regret. The book ends with Dienbenphu and an epilogue.

    Interestingly, the book was published in 1961, just as the United States was preparing to enter the conflict in South Vietnam. Dr. Fall crisply and presciently points out the parallels between the views of the defeated French and the heedless, entering Americans. Had the right people read and heeded this book, perhaps we would not have The Wall in Washington D.C. today.


    The book contains numerous black and white photos and maps, and is excellently written in every possible respect. One cannot possibly understand the Vietnam War, including our history in it, without reading this landmark work. It is a true work of genius, and receives the highest recommendation.


    "Street Without Joy" was first published in 1961. It should have been a clear window into the nature of counter insurgency warfare in Indo China, yet the United States' experience there suggests that no leaders of influence had read it, or if they had, they believed that something in their conduct would make things different. A close reading of "Street Without Joy" also suggests that, had the US not developed an extensive air mobility capability by the mid 1960s, US casualties would have been much greater, and our exit from Vietnam much sooner.


    Although it mainly revolves around the French (due to Fall not being able to access North Vietnamese records during the time) it is quite unbiased and shows the Vietnamese side in good light (Fall was a big admirer of Ho Chi Minh and Giap despite being antim communist). At the same time Fall also respected and admired the courage and professional ablities of French soldiers fighting for a cause few at home cared about. At the end of the supply and communications lines, the French Army in Indo-China was mired in a war they had little control over and governed by successive regimes in Paris that had no clue as to what might be needed to effectively and successively defeat the Communist Viet Minh.

    Despite all these failings, Fall never lost sight of the fact that the soldiers from metropolitan France did their best for a lost cause and a populace at home who cared less.

    This book earns a PERFECT 5/5.is what introduced me to the Indochina and is the perfect introduction to the French Indochina War. It explains the fundamental facts of the war and the essential figures and events that shaped the ultimate outcome of the French defeat in Dien Bien Phu. It also foreshadows the American war that will come in Indochina decades later and thus give the athmosphere of a Greek tragedy. Get and read Street Without Joy and you will surely learn to appreciate the brilliant martial skills of the French soldiers and the matyrdom they gave for a nation that doesn't give a **** about their lives.

    Also I recommend after reading Street Without Joy to read Hell In A Very Small Place also by Bernard Fall. It goes over the battle of Dien Bien Phu. I will be posting a review about the book soon after Iam done rereading it.

  • #2
    Iam a specialist in the French Indochina War and am quite an expert in the topic


    My dear boy, the only books that any American had ever read on Indochina in the 1960s were Bernard Fall's. Indeed, they were the rage among Army officers of the period. Prithy enlighten us on the books you have read on Indochina in the original French version. Likewise, and Vietnamese books you've read. I have a standard three shelf bookshelf full of French histories, and about 10 Vietnamese histories, mostly biographical accounts. Also, I served with Indochina veterans, have interviewed Indochina veterans, and have published several articles on the subject in Vietnam magazine, both print and internet versions. And I would hardly consider myself 'quite an expert'.

    Are you ?
    dit: Lirelou

    Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by lirelou View Post


      My dear boy, the only books that any American had ever read on Indochina in the 1960s were Bernard Fall's. Indeed, they were the rage among Army officers of the period. Prithy enlighten us on the books you have read on Indochina in the original French version. Likewise, and Vietnamese books you've read. I have a standard three shelf bookshelf full of French histories, and about 10 Vietnamese histories, mostly biographical accounts. Also, I served with Indochina veterans, have interviewed Indochina veterans, and have published several articles on the subject in Vietnam magazine, both print and internet versions. And I would hardly consider myself 'quite an expert'.

      Are you ?
      When I meant specialist, I meant someone wo is into the thing. As for actual works from French and Vietnamese I own several including Agonies D'Indochina, some works by Roy Jules, Un destin hroque: Bernard de Lattre, Le 5e Renfort, La Route Morte , some bio of Vandenberghe and several books on Indochina by Giap.

      Much of the works I bought from this site:
      http://www.indoeditions.com/index.ph...deja_parus.php

      However I only have basic knowledge of French and am trying to improve my French language skills and Vietnamese language skills before attempting to read these foriegn works.

      As of now much of what I learn of the Indochina is from some wargaming site:

      http://members.multimania.co.uk/Indochine/

      Anyway can you give me list of works on the VIetnamese side aside from Giap(tried to research on the net,mostly books on the Vietnaemse side by Americans appeared)?

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, you are to be congratulated for having found Cyril's site. He does produce the very best histories on Indochina.
        dit: Lirelou

        Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

        Comment


        • #5
          I have the '64 edition and wonder if it differs much from the latest edition?
          Skip

          Comment


          • #6
            I've been meaning to read this for ages. Sadly, it's on my to read list, along with a hundred other books. Most of the histories that I've read are contemporary; I wonder how they will compare.
            ...how useless it was to struggle against fortune, this being the burden of wisdom which the ages had bequeathed to him.

            Comment


            • #7
              Skip, hard to see how any later edition would be different, seeing that Fall was killed while operating with the Marines up in I Corps.
              dit: Lirelou

              Phong trần mi một lưỡi gươm, Những loi gi o ti cơm s g!

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes I have, several times and I still read it occasionally. Also the Last Valley, is an excellent book on the subject. Falls book has to be one of the best accounts I have ever read. Superb.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Falls stuff is excellent. Anyone seen 'La 317e section' by Pierre Shoendoerffer who was at Dien Bien Phu and its aftermath? Great movie, and his life is sort of like Lt. Dans out of that horrible Forrest Gump thing.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lucky 6 View Post
                    I've been meaning to read this for ages. Sadly, it's on my to read list, along with a hundred other books. Most of the histories that I've read are contemporary; I wonder how they will compare.
                    After doing more in depth study on the Indochina War and reading other works, I would say Street Without Joy is not the definite book on the Indochina War.Fall's book is not the only source one should rely on the topic of Indochina, but rather Street Without Joy is probably the best intro book to the Indochina War. You would have to read other books to get a clear view on Indochina(including French and Vietnamese language books) but Street Without Joy is probably the best place to start if you are going to study Indochina.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Footnote in Chapter End of a Task Force (GM100)

                      Originally posted by SegaSaturnGamer View Post
                      Iam a specialist in the French Indochina War and am quite an expert in the topic( I bet I know far more than any Ami could ever learn!). If you aren't familiar with th French War I recommend you read Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall. Here is a review:

                      In this first hand account of the French war in Vietnam, Dr. Bernard Fall provides a critical analysis of French combat operations in a war that lasted from 1946 to 1954. Over 94,500 gallant, French soldiers died in this vain, yet valiant attempt to contain communism in Southeast Asia. What could and should we have learned from this tragedy?

                      Fall gives detailed accounts of communist tactics and the results that accrued to French commanders who refused to recognize the fact that, "the (tactics) book," they had been schooled under simply did not apply in Vietnam. Amazingly, the U.S. then deployed our troops to Vietnam, with our own officers schooled by the same, "book!" Gallantry, esprit-de-corp, machismo, and/or faith in a righteous cause were no more effective against well-laid ambushes in the `60s and `70s than they were in the `40s and `50s. The lessons of history were there for the reading. Why we refused to heed them is a mystery that still calls for an answer.

                      Street Without Joy is not a left-wing condemnation of western "imperialism," or, the evils of "intervention." Fall neither condemns nor condones the goal of containing communism. He merely analyzes reasons for the French defeat. There was no precedent for fighting a "revolutionary war," prior to the French experience. The same could not be said for the U.S. If the French defeat was borne of ignorance; America's came seemingly from arrogance.

                      Included in the history of French military defeats, and occasional victories, are studies of such things as the role of women in the war and the decimation of a superbly equipped French task force by concerted, brilliantly conceived guerrilla activity by the Viet Minh. The role of the French Foreign Legion is examined, as is the history of the French desire to seek a set battlefield, which of course, they got in Dienbenphu, to their regret. The book ends with Dienbenphu and an epilogue.

                      Interestingly, the book was published in 1961, just as the United States was preparing to enter the conflict in South Vietnam. Dr. Fall crisply and presciently points out the parallels between the views of the defeated French and the heedless, entering Americans. Had the right people read and heeded this book, perhaps we would not have The Wall in Washington D.C. today.


                      The book contains numerous black and white photos and maps, and is excellently written in every possible respect. One cannot possibly understand the Vietnam War, including our history in it, without reading this landmark work. It is a true work of genius, and receives the highest recommendation.


                      "Street Without Joy" was first published in 1961. It should have been a clear window into the nature of counter insurgency warfare in Indo China, yet the United States' experience there suggests that no leaders of influence had read it, or if they had, they believed that something in their conduct would make things different. A close reading of "Street Without Joy" also suggests that, had the US not developed an extensive air mobility capability by the mid 1960s, US casualties would have been much greater, and our exit from Vietnam much sooner.


                      Although it mainly revolves around the French (due to Fall not being able to access North Vietnamese records during the time) it is quite unbiased and shows the Vietnamese side in good light (Fall was a big admirer of Ho Chi Minh and Giap despite being antim communist). At the same time Fall also respected and admired the courage and professional ablities of French soldiers fighting for a cause few at home cared about. At the end of the supply and communications lines, the French Army in Indo-China was mired in a war they had little control over and governed by successive regimes in Paris that had no clue as to what might be needed to effectively and successively defeat the Communist Viet Minh.

                      Despite all these failings, Fall never lost sight of the fact that the soldiers from metropolitan France did their best for a lost cause and a populace at home who cared less.

                      This book earns a PERFECT 5/5.is what introduced me to the Indochina and is the perfect introduction to the French Indochina War. It explains the fundamental facts of the war and the essential figures and events that shaped the ultimate outcome of the French defeat in Dien Bien Phu. It also foreshadows the American war that will come in Indochina decades later and thus give the athmosphere of a Greek tragedy. Get and read Street Without Joy and you will surely learn to appreciate the brilliant martial skills of the French soldiers and the matyrdom they gave for a nation that doesn't give a **** about their lives.

                      Also I recommend after reading Street Without Joy to read Hell In A Very Small Place also by Bernard Fall. It goes over the battle of Dien Bien Phu. I will be posting a review about the book soon after Iam done rereading it.

                      Hello,
                      Fall was kind to give me credit in his 4th printing for the photo of one of the monuments on Route 19 that I sent him, though he did not use it. When I got back to the An Khe area and the 1st Cav for my 2nd tour, I had a "back at home" feeling about being back in the Central Highlands.
                      Chuck
                      RedDagger18

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have read it and still have it on my shelf also may I recomed The Seige of of Dien Bien Phu ( Hell In a Very Small Place ) also by Bernard Fall I like both of them. And do you have any recomendation for me at all ?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Bright Shining Lie

                          Pultizer Prize winner Neil Sheehan's outstanding Bright Shining Lie makes a good companion piece to Fall's work.

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