View Full Version : Quotes on the French in Vietnam

08-16-2015, 07:33 PM
From Embers of War : the fall of an empire and the making of America's Vietnam / Fredrik Logevall, 1963-. c2012, Random House

Summary A history of the four decades leading up to the Vietnam War offers insights into how the U.S. became involved, identifying commonalities between the campaigns of French and American forces while discussing relevant political factors.

Length xxii, 839 p. : maps, photos

An excellent read. Good maps, good flow to the narrative. Lots of timing issues that got the US into the war.

08-16-2015, 10:10 PM
On March 20, 1945, de Gaulle (Pres. of the French Provisional Gov.) in Paris read a cable from one of the besieged French garrisons in Indochina praising the morale of the troops, pleading for immediate aid, & concluding with a patriotic flourish.

Jean-Paul Sartre put the matter more simply: "In the space of five years, we have acquired a formidable inferiority complex."

08-17-2015, 11:08 AM
Graham Greene, novelist.

"His explanation for his Malaya sojourn applied equally well to Vietnam: "Nature doesn't really interest me -- except in so far as it may contain an ambush -- that is, something human."

(My emphasis)

Greene visited VN in 1951 for 3-1/2 months, into 1952, as the French situation in VN was worsening. (It had always been worsening, since the French Provisional Government's return @ the end of WWII. The French colonists & military & police who were there throughout WWII & survived were freed from internment & rearmed.)

08-19-2015, 03:55 PM
"If you were really wounded badly," the (French Foreign) legionnaire observed, "there was an old German saying, 'Magen Schuss, Kopf Schuss -- ist Spritzer' (Belly shot, head shot -- it's an overdose job). They'd give you a shot of morphine -- that was your lot. ... We had these collapsible ampoules and we used to stick them in a chap's cheek. You gave them an overdose if they'd got their legs blown off -- you're 300km from anywhere -- what are you going to do?"

On campaigning in the Tai highlands, Tonkin, near Laos, in the area of Dien Bien Phu, 1954.

08-19-2015, 04:28 PM
"The myth arose among French Union soldiers that the enemy (the Viet Minh) was in his natural element in these highlands (near Dien Bien Phu), able to move swiftly & easily through even the most difficult terrain & to subsist on the most meager of rations. In fact, most Viet Minh troops were not from the region at all, but from the coastal plains and the two deltas (around Saigon & Hanoi). They too were unfamiliar with much that they encountered & had to adjust to the twilight under the jungle canopy & to the new living conditions."

Some stories never change; perhaps they're simply too attractive to discard.

08-21-2015, 05:20 PM
In the US, skeptics included Reinhold Neibuhr, the influential theologian, who said of him, "Mr. Dulles's moral universe makes everything quite clear, too clear. . . . Self-righteousness is the inevitable fruit of simple moral judgments."

08-21-2015, 05:26 PM
As he once said, Americans (in VN after 1954) were "dreaming different dreams than the French but walking in the same footsteps."