Valley of the Shadow: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu (Hardcover)

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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.

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.

Praise For…

"This book is the most detailed analysis yet published of Dien Bien Phu. The authors' research in recently available Vietnamese sources raises our understanding of this world-changing battle to a new level. It is underpinned by maps, orders-of-battle and statistical material which are of unprecedented completeness for a Western publication. Every chapter has surprises to offer which either change our perceptions, deepen our understanding, or both." - Martin Windrow, Author of 'The Last Valley'

"Boylan's and Olivier's new work on the siege of Dien Bien Phu is a major contribution to scholarship which in some respects surpasses and supersedes all previous works on this epic story of the post-Second World War epoch. No-one interested in the First Indochina War (1946-1954) can afford to ignore it and it should also be read by all interested in the Second Indochina War (1959-1975). Boylan (by courtesy of Merle Pribbenow's translations) has made fuller use than any previous historian of Vietnamese Communist literature on this campaign, while Olivier has dived deep into French archival sources and interviewed an impressive array of veterans. The result is a work which busts myths and corrects oft-repeated errors. […] For decades Bernard Fall has been venerated as an authority on the First Indochina War, his "Hell in a Very Small Place" long regarded as the classic account of the campaign. Boylan and Olivier are not intimidated by Fall's venerable status. Fall did not have access to some of the sources that Boylan and Olivier have used and they convincingly demonstrate that he got some things wrong. It is to be hoped that Fall's great work will continue to be read, but on the military events of the campaign Boylan's and Olivier's book now sets the standard." - Dr J. P. Harris, Senior Lecturer in the Department of War Studies at RMA Sandhurst

Product Details
ISBN: 9781472824370
ISBN-10: 1472824377
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication Date: July 24th, 2018
Pages: 368
Language: English