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The Last Valley

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About the Author

Martin Windrow is an associate of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Foreign Legion Association of Great Britain. He is the co-author of several well-known military reference works, including the Dictionary of Military Biography. He lives in Sussex, England.


Classic is defined as "of the highest class or of the first order," which justly describes this study of French Indochina and its fall at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. With discerning balance, Windrow (associate, Royal Historical Soc., London) constructs the initial French colonial presence in Vietnam in the 1860s and the rise of the Communist Vietminh at the end of the Japanese occupation in 1945. Mounting tensions between the French and the Vietminh parallels the increasing number and sophistication of arms that seem to have led to the denouement at Dien Bien Phu. Windrow carefully reconstructs the backstage interplay of political forces in both France and within the Vietminh. The book's last half describes day by day the eight-week battle for Dien Bien Phu. The enormity of detail might overwhelm readers if each little piece did not fit so neatly together. A type of parachute, a radio frequency, and the power of an artillery shell are pieces of a giant puzzle, drawing us in. This extraordinary story of heroism, passion, and tragedy should long stand as the definitive study of Dien Bien Phu.-John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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