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Fall begins with a short history of the country. Vietnam has been dominated, through the ages, by a host of foreign powers: first, China, then France, then, during World War II, Japan, and finally the U.S. The reader sympathizes with nationalist leaders like Ho Chi Minh after reviewing Fall's indictment of the French colonial administration. Feelings change after reading how Franklin Roosevelt allowed the slaughter of his allies, the Free-French forces fighting against his bitter enemies, the Japanese, in order to insure France would never return to Indo-China as a colonial power.
In the post World War II period, America's preoccupation with the U.S.S.R.and the PRC and its vacillating foreign policy regarding Indo-China provided the Communists with numerous opportunities to entrench themselves north and south of the 17th parallel. After France's humiliation at Dien Bien Phu America was left to "contain communism" in Southeast Asia alone. To do this we had to support the repressive dictatorship of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem whose police state tactics had thoroughly alienated the populace. His chapter on, "Viet-Nam's Twelve Elections," is particularly enlightening; call it "democracy" at its absolute worst!
He then examines numerous successful and unsuccessful insurgencies worldwide and shows how conditions were similar or dissimilar in Viet Nam. By simply enumerating the number of South Vietnamese provinces not paying taxes and counting the number of Saigon appointed village chiefs assassinated annually, he predicted the regime would fall. The South Vietnamese government simply did not have the popular support necessary to survive even with massive U.S. support. Sadly, his predictions would be proven true a few years after his death.
Fall's work is a first hand account of the shortcomings of French and America policy that led to a Communist victory. Inspired by the plight of North and South Vietnamese, and later, French and American soldiers in the field, men who bore the brunt of the ill-conceived policies of their leader's, Last Reflections stands as a tribute to the fallen of both sides. Hopefully the spirit of freedom that has motivated the Vietnamese peasant to struggle against domination through the ages is still alive today, even under the repressive, Communist dictatorship currently in power in Vietnam. If so, the present leaders of Vietnam should beware!Last Reflections on a War OverviewBernard B Fall was 40 years old when he was killed by a booby trap in northern South Vietnam on February 21, 1967. By the time of his death he had already authored seven books on Vietnam. This book, first published shortly after Dr Fall's death, is a tribute to his life's work. It contains the only known autobiographical account of his life, several previously unpublished articles, notes for "Street Without Joy Revisited", and transcripts of Dr Fall's tape recordings, including his last recorded words.
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