Author: Bernard B. Fall.
Title: Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina.
Publisher: Stackpole Books.
Copyright: 1961, 1964, 2005.
Overview & Impressions:
Street Without Joy is a defining book on the French debacle to recolonize Vietnam in the 1950s. The author was there during the conflict. After the war, he interviewed North Vietnamese leaders who were confident in winning the second Indochina war with the Americans. Fall wrote pessimistically about the West ability to learn from Revolutionary War. Especially, when the political will wasn't there to face a prolonged conflict. Neither the French nor the Americans learned this lesson Military might is a poor substitute for political acumen when fighting a counter-insurgency.
American won two counter-insurgencies in her young history. One of the Philipines' insurrection and the second was the Pony Wars against the Native Americans of the late 19th century. Both were bloody, unpopular, and high-handed engagements. That kind of will-power was needed in Indochina. The French had the firepower, but lacked the will to fight. The Vietnamese were spurred on by nationalism and a sense of mission to get rid of the hated Europeans. America made the mistake in continuing the French fight in South Vietnam without learning from their defeat. Fall made that clear in this book....
Depressing reading. On the plus side, it goes quick for military history. Too bad American policy makers didn't read it before committing lives and treasure to a losing cause.