VIETNAM 1945 by David G. Marr


The Quest for Power
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 A winning combination of scholarly tome and readable history, examining the portentous events culminating in the ``August Revolution'' of 1945, when Ho Chi Minh declared the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Marr (Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 19201945, not reviewed, etc.) learned the Vietnamese language as a US Marine Corps intelligence officer in 1961. He went to Vietnam the next year, then studied its history and society at graduate school in the United States before becoming a senior fellow at the Australian National University's Research School of Pacific Studies. He has scrutinized an astounding number of official documents in Vietnam, France, and the US and has interviewed many of the important players in Vietnam's postWW II history. All that work reaches fruition in this book, which tells the historically important story of the end of Japanese occupation of Vietnam and the short-lived takeover of the country by Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary Viet Minh in August 1945. Marr successfully navigates his way through the dense web of competing and contentious factions in postwar Vietnam: the occupying Japanese army; the defeated French civilians and colonial bureaucrats; the weak Vietnamese government of Emperor Bao Dai; the communist-dominated Viet Minh; the disparate group of anticommunist Vietnamese nationalists; the nationalist Chinese; the British army; the handful of American OSS agents on the scene to help fight the Japanese; and the various French officials working under orders from General Charles de Gaulle to recolonize Vietnam (and Laos and Cambodia) as soon as possible. Marr tells this extremely complicated story very well, backing up his sharp analysis with mountains of supporting factual evidence. He portrays Ho Chi Minh as a fervently anticolonial nationalist who looked in vain for help from the US based on vague American promises to work against French recolonization. Meticulous and objective, an indispensable document for understanding the roots of American involvement in Vietnam. (32 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-520-07833-0
Page count: 587pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1995


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