Valley of the Shadow: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu

Valley of the Shadow: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu

by Kevin Boylan, Luc Olivier


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Struggling to reassert control over their Indochinese colonies after World War II, the French established a huge air-land base in the valley of Dien Bien Phu. But when the opposing Vietnamese People's Army (VPA) began massing its forces against the base in late 1953, French commanders seized the opportunity to draw their elusive enemy into a decisive set-piece battle.

Defending a series of fortified positions which were reliant upon a single airstrip – and later, risky and inaccurate airdrops – for reinforcement and resupply, the French troops quickly discovered that they had underestimated their enemy. In 56 days of costly close-quarters fighting, the VPA slowly dislodged the French from one strongpoint after another by developing novel tactics and accomplishing incredible feats of engineering.

Drawing upon Vietnamese-language sources never previously employed in Western accounts of the siege, Valley of the Shadow is a dramatic re-telling of the climactic battle of the First Indochina War, the conflict that saw the French expelled from their former colony and set the stage for the “American War” in Vietnam.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781472824417
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 07/23/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 174,098
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Dr Kevin M. Boylan, PhD earned his bachelors in History from Rutgers University and his doctorate from Temple University. He was employed for a decade at the Pentagon as a defense analyst for the US Defense Department Director of Program Analysis and Evaluation and the US Army Staff War Plans Division before returning to academe. He won the Society for Military History's Moncado Prize in both 2010 and 2015, and authored Losing Binh Dinh: The Failure of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1969-1971 (University Press of Kansas, 2016). Dr Boylan currently teaches at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts.

Luc Olivier earned his Masters in Geography at the CESA in the University of Tours, and served in the French Army as a second lieutenant and platoon commander. He also has an extensive background in IT consulting and is presently the managing director of a French-Hungarian IT company. He has designed a dozen commercial wargames – including two on Dien Bien Phu – which have been published in magazines including Vae Victis and Battles Magazine. He also written and published many articles on historical military topics over the last 20 years. He lives in Paris, France.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. L'Union Française

3. The Vietnamese People's Army

4. The Base Aero-Terrestre

5. Giap's First Offensive, March 13–18

6. The Lull, March 19–29

7. Giap's Second Offensive, March 30–April 2

8. April is the Cruelest Month, April 3–30

9. Giap's Third Offensive, May 1–8

10. Afterward

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