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Embers of War

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Embers of War

The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how...
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how...
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    Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France's final years in Indochina--and shows how, from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history. An epic story of wasted opportunities and deadly miscalculations, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Embers of War is a gripping, heralded work that illuminates the hidden history of the French and American experiences in Vietnam.

    Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians

  • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award
  • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award
  • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

    The Washington Post
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Globe and Mail

    "A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war."--Pulitzer Prize citation

    "This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence."--Francis Parkman Prize citation

    "A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date."--The Wall Street Journal

    "Superb . . . a product of formidable international research."--The Washington Post

    "Lucid and vivid . . . [a] definitive history."--San Francisco Chronicle

    "An essential work for those seeking to understand the worst foreign-policy adventure in American history . . . Even though readers know how the story ends--as with The Iliad--they will be as riveted by the tale as if they were hearing it for the first time."--The Christian Science Monitor

    "A remarkable new history . . . Logevall skillfully explains everything that led up to Vietnam's fatal partition in 1954 [and] peppers the grand sweep of his book with vignettes of remarkable characters, wise and foolish."--The Economist

    "Fascinating, beautifully written . . . Logevall's account provides much new detail and important new insights. . . . It is impossible to read the book without being struck by contemporary parallels."--Foreign Policy

    "[A] brilliant history of how the French colonial war to hang on to its colonies in Indochina became what the Vietnamese now call 'the American war.'"--Esquire

    "An excellent, valuable book."--The Dallas Morning News
  • Chapter 1

    "The Empire Is with Us!"

    In the late afternoon of june 18, 1940, the tall, stiff-backed Frenchman walked into the BBC studios in London. His country stood on the brink of defeat. German columns were sweeping through France and had entered Paris. The French government under Marshal Philippe Pétain had fled for Bordeaux and had asked the Germans to state their terms for an armistice. These were the darkest days in the country's history, but General Charles de Gaulle, who had arrived in London the day before, was convinced that France could rise again--provided that her people did not lose heart. De Gaulle had met earlier in the day with Prime Minister Winston Churchill and had secured permission to make a broadcast to France.

    He was pale, recalled one of those present, with a brown forelock stuck to his forehead. "He stared at the microphone as though it were France and as though he wanted to hypnotize it. His voice was clear, firm, and rather loud, the voice of a man speaking to his troops before battle. He did not seem nervous but extremely tense, as though he were concentrating all his power in one single moment."

    De Gaulle's thoughts that day were on the French Empire, whose resources, he sensed, could keep France in the war and fighting. And they were with Britain and the United States, great powers with whom he could ally. "Believe what I tell you," de Gaulle intoned into the microphone, "for I know of what I speak, and I say that nothing is lost for France." Then, like a cleric chanting a litany, he declared: "For France is not alone. She is not alone. She is not alone. She has a vast Empire behind her. She can unite with the British Empire that rules the seas and is continuing the fight. Like Britain, she can make unlimited use of the immense industrial resources of the United States."

    The broadcast, which lasted barely four minutes, has gone down in French history as L'Appel du 18 Juin. At the time, however, few heard it and few knew who de Gaulle was. Alexander Cadogan, the permanent undersecretary at the British Foreign Office, knew only that de Gaulle had a "head like a pineapple and hips like a woman's." Robert Murphy, the counselor at the U.S. embassy in Paris, could not recall ever having heard of him before that day. The same was true of most of de Gaulle's compatriots. Although he was notorious within French military circles for his advocacy of the mechanization of the army and the offensive deployment of tanks, few outside that select group would have recognized his name, much less known the essentials of his biography: the birth in Lille in 1890; the diploma from the military academy at Saint-Cyr; the five failed (in part because of his conspicuous height) escape attempts from German prison camps in World War I; the postwar military career initially under the wing of Pétain.

    De Gaulle had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general only a few weeks before, in the midst of the Battle of France (thus making him, at forty-nine, the youngest general in the army). He then joined Premier Paul Reynaud's government on June 5 as undersecretary of state for war. Reynaud sought to carry on the fight, but twelve days later, with the French war effort collapsing wholesale, as German armies were well south of Dijon and pressing down the Atlantic coast, he resigned. De Gaulle, certain that Pétain would seek an armistice, escaped to London, determined to continue the resistance from there.

    The basis for de Gaulle's speech that fateful day was his conviction that the conflict was not limited to Europe. It was a "world war," he declared, one "not bound by the Battle of France." He would be proven correct....

About the Author-
  • Fredrik Logevall is John S. Knight Professor of International Studies and professor of history at Cornell University, where he serves as director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

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The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
Fredrik Logevall
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Fredrik Logevall
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