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Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption
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History of Vietnam
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Historical (novel?) to read prior to Vietnam trip? - Vietnam Forum
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Remembering the effect that television had had on public opinion during the war, many defenders of the war effort feared that this media enterprise might be the demonologists' last gasp and that biased editing of provocative film footage could undo all the good that the New Vietnam Scholarship had accomplished. Unfortunately, both the book and series are still seriously flawed, which means that the definitive history of America's Vietnam has yet to be written.
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It is necessary at the outset to make an important distinction between the PBS series and Karnow's book. The book is far superior to the series, and the series itself is uneven; many episodes were better and more objective than others.
The differences arise from the sensationalism inherent in television and those responsible for various segments of the PBS series. Unfortunately, for the program's balance, financial difficulties forced Karnow and Ellison to allocate nearly half of the episodes to European producers: Antenna 2 in France and the British Central Independent Television system.
While the episodes produced by the Americans at least attempted to achieve a certain degree of fairmindedness, the European-produced segments were notably pro-Communist and anti-American. They portrayed the North Vietnamese as imperturbably heroic, in the face of overwhelming French and American powers, while the Westerners are shown as barbaric, heedless at best of the carnage they are inflicting on the Vietnamese peasants.
But even the American-produced episodes suffered from severe shortcomings which can be attributed not only to the outlook of Karnow and Ellison but to the medium of television. Its visual images can shock and overwhelm the viewer, even with an accompanying explanation. It is easier to remember the images of carnage and despair-the sight of an American or South Vietnamese killing an enemy-than it is to remember the reason; given for a particular action. Let us consider just two well-known instances.
When we see the infamous sequence of a little Vietnamese girl, burned by napalm as she runs down a road, revulsion seizes us.
It seems that brutal Americans are attacking a helpless population, including women and children. The episode was not, as the image seems to convey, an American attack on helpless civilians. Or consider the most vivid image of all: the Saigon police chief summarily executing a Viet Cong prisoner in the early hours of the Tet offensive.
Television does not tell us how the police chief had lost many men to terrorists during the morning, including one who was killed with his wife and children. It does not tell us that this terrorist had sneered at him, "Now you must treat me as a prisoner of war. Interestingly, even the best of the PBS episodes do nothing to contradict the claim that television contributed to the American defeat in the Vietnam War.
Even showing them again, as a part of a systematic history, does not alter their impact. As a result, these political organizations failed.
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The Revolutionary League appeared to be an ally of the other organizations, but in reality it was a competitor. Ho Chi Minh was the son of a Vietnamese official who opposed French rule. He grew up on nationalist tales of Vietnamese heroes.
Vietnam | History, Population, Map, & Facts | fastzodercka.ml
At the age of 21 he traveled the world as a cook on an ocean liner, and then worked in the kitchen of a luxury hotel in London. Just as WWI was ending he arrived in France. That fall, the leaders of the Great Powers arrived there for the Versailles peace conference.
Since Vietnam was part of a French colony, the petition was ignored. Ho stayed in France, and his politics became more radical. Only three years after the Bolshevik Revolution brought communism to Russia, Ho became a founding member of the French Communist Party. His activities soon brought him to the attention of the Soviets, who trained him in Moscow for a year and then sent him to South China. One reason for this was his attractive personality and character. Another reason was that the Youth League, unlike the other anti-French organizations, appealed to the peasant and the worker.
When the Great Depression caused a rise in unemployment and dramatic declines in the price of rice and the standard of living, communism became even more appealing as it did in the other parts of the world, including the United States. When nationalists staged an uprising in , Ho transformed his League into a formal Indochinese Communist Party. The French quickly put down the rebellion and arrested most of the Communist Party leaders, including Ho, who spent time imprisoned in the British colony of Hong Kong.
For the rest of the s the Communist Party in Vietnam limped along. But then WWII and the resulting regional instability changed everything. By that time the Japanese war against China was three years old. In September the Japanese invaded Indochina to prevent China from moving arms and fuel through the region.
The Vichy French yielded to the occupation and signed an agreement giving the Japanese conditional occupation rights. Vichy France continued to run the colony, but ultimate power resided with the Japanese. Controlled by the Communist Party of Vietnam, it took up arms against both French and Japanese occupation forces. The Viet Minh toned down their communist rhetoric, earning them support from many Vietnamese patriots who desired independence, if not specifically under communism.