Synopses & Reviews
Ho Chi Minh is one of the towering figures of the twentieth century, considered an icon and father of the nation by many Vietnamese. Pierre Brocheux's biography of Ho Chi Minh is a brilliant feat of historical engineering. In a concise and highly readable account, he negotiates the many twists and turns of Ho Chi Minh's life and his multiple identities, from impoverished beginnings as a communist revolutionary to his founding of the Indochina Communist Party and the League for Independence of Vietnam, and ultimately to his leadership of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and his death in 1969. Biographical events are adroitly placed within the broader historical canvas of colonization, decolonization, communism, war, and nation building. Brocheux's vivid and convincing portrait of Ho Chi Minh goes further than any previous biography in explaining both the myth and the man, as well as the times in which he was situated.
"The founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam emerges as an appealing but still somewhat enigmatic figure in this impressionistic biography. French historian Brocheux (The Mekong Delta) notes the complexity of Ho (1890 1969): a sometimes unorthodox revolutionary who combined Leninist theory with Confucian moralism; a cosmopolitan he spent much of his youth in Europe who admired French culture and a nationalist who battled French imperialism; and a man of immense personal charm, whom smitten acquaintances likened to Charlie Chaplin and a warmhearted Mr. Chips. Brocheux himself seems rather taken with his subject, and regales readers with stories of Uncle Ho's modesty and humility, his fitness regimen, his homespun wisdom and prison poetry, his conciliatory disposition and his brimming solicitude for peasants, subordinates, political opponents and enemy POWs. The author struggles to reconcile this humane sage with the grim Stalinism of the regime he founded, ultimately finding Ho a tragic figure 'crushed under... an implacable system that he had helped put in place through his indisputable charisma.' Unfortunately, perhaps because of the inaccessibility of documentary sources, Brocheux's account is too brief and haphazard the entire Vietnam War is disposed of in a few pages to shed much light on this central conundrum of Ho's life. Photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Inexplicably...Brocheux makes little use of the new Vietnamese works on Ho....[H]e did not track down bodyguards, doctors, mistresses, and other survivors who had close contact with his subject. The result is not a rounded portrait of the 'Vietnamese icon'...but a Ho-hum portrait." Stephen Kotkin, The New Republic
(read the entire New Republic review
A fascinating biography of the Vietnamese icon Ho Chi Minh.
About the Author
Pierre Brocheux is retired Professor of History at Universitéde Paris VII. His previous publications include The Mekong Delta. Ecology, Economy and Revolution. 1860-1960 (1995).
Table of Contents
Preface; Timeline; Chronology; 1. In search of a future; 2. Missionary for the revolution; 3. Under the sword of Damocles (1931-1945); 4.The father of the nation; 5. The force of circumstance; Bibliography.