|About the Book|
In December 1953, the French army occuping Vietnam challenged the elusive Vietnamese army to engage in a decisive battle. When French paratroopers landed in the jungle on the border between Vietnam and Laos, the Vietnamese quickly isolated theMoreIn December 1953, the French army occuping Vietnam challenged the elusive Vietnamese army to engage in a decisive battle. When French paratroopers landed in the jungle on the border between Vietnam and Laos, the Vietnamese quickly isolated the French force and besieged it in a small place called Dien Bien Phu. The hunters - the French army - had become the hunted, desperately defending their outgunned base. As defeat loomed for the French, they appealed to the United States for help. The vice-president at the time, Richard Nixon, and Air Force general Curtis Le May soon devised a plan to drop atomic weapons on Vietnamese supply dumps - an ill-considered strategy blocked by President Dwight Eisenhower. And so the siege in the jungle wore on, its scope and ferocity calling to mind the siege of Stalingrad during World War II. Eventually, the French were depleted, demoralized, and destroyed. As they withdrew, the country of Vietnam was ominously divided at U.S. insistence, creating the short-lived Republic of South Vietnam, for which 55,000 Americans would die in the next twenty years. Dien Bien Phu was a pivotal battle of the last century - the first defeat of modern Western forces by an Asian guerrilla army. Its political consequences reverberate to this day. The Last Valley is destined to be the classic account of the battle for generations to come.