Vietnam 1946: How the War Began


Tønnesson, Stein (2009) Vietnam 1946: How the War Began. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. From Indochina to Vietnam: Revolution and War in a Global Perspective.

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A study of the outbreak of a war, based on multiarchival research

"Stein Tønnesson's Vietnam 1946 answers the fundamental question about the first of Vietnam's twentieth-century wars, the one fought against the French: how did it happen? He has written a meticulously researched account that restores their contingency to the events. The first Indochina war, like those that succeeded it, was not inevitable, and Tønnesson explains why and how it happened anyway." Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990

Multiarchival research conducted over almost three decades has resulted in this landmark account that describes how a few men set off a war that was catastrophic for millions. Stein Tønnesson was one of the first historians to delve into scores of secret French, British, and American political, military, and intelligence documents. In this fascinating account of an unfolding tragedy, he disentangles the complex web of personalities, actions, and events that led to thirty years of war in Indochina. As the story unfolds, Tønnesson challenges some widespread misconceptions, arguing that French General Leclerc fell into a Chinese trap in March 1946, and Vietnamese General Giap into a French trap in December. Vietnam 1946 takes us from the antechambers of policymakers in Paris to the docksides of Haiphong and the streets of Hanoi. It provides the most vivid account to date of the events that made Vietnam the ultimate embattled area in the world during the Cold War period.
PRIO activities in Hanoi

Stein Tønnesson (Research Professor and former Director at PRIO) is in Hanoi (Vietnam) during the international conference The South China Sea: Cooperation for Regional Security and Development 26-27 november 2009. His new book is being launched in Hanoi 30 November.

Book Prize to Stein Tønnesson

The International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) has awarded Stein Tønnesson's book Vietnam 1946: How the War Began (University of California Press, 2009) the 2011 Book Prize for humanities.

The Prize was awarded at the ICAS Convention in Honolulu in April, and the jury expressed 'One of the great strengths of Vietnam 1946 is that it is the product of several decades of research and reflection. It carries the authority of an author who has closely studied both the available sources and the individuals involved in the decision-making processes'.

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