“Ted Morgan answers one of the most elusive questions of our time: how and why America went into Vietnam? Until now the issue of the origins of the war was never given the thorough analysis found in Valley of Death, an amazing and essential account that was missing from all the classic Vietnam War histories. It took a writer equally comfortable with the French and the American archival record to finally deal successfully with the issue that compelled Robert McNamara to order the drafting of the Pentagon Papers. Yet even that Department of Defense study remains incomplete because the French record was only marginally touched by the researchers. That gap has finally been closed with Valley of Death.”—Robert L. Miller, Co-author of Encyclopedia of Cold War Espionage
“Ted Morgan brings to life the climactic battle of Dien Bien Phu in a way no English reader has seen in four decades. This was the battle that cast the enduring mold for Southeast Asia. From contextualizing the French war in Vietnam to the desperate efforts of French and Vietnamese soldiers, and from the conference tables in Geneva, Paris, and Washington to the staff map rooms in Hanoi and at Viet Minh headquarters in the bush, Valley of Death tells this important story with verve. This is a gem of a book.” —John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975
“In Valley of Death, Ted Morgan has made a significant contribution to the bookshelf of both history buff and general reader. Done in an easy, readable style, thoroughly researched, it is a story of the incredible blunders made by the French in their effort to maintain their colonial status in Indo-China from 1940 to mid 1954. It stands as a reminder of how easy it is for the Western countries to underestimate the will of “backward” peoples to fight for their freedoms both with self-sacrifice and intelligence. At the same time it is a very human story. It tells of people – of generals, diplomats, and most of all the soldiers and nurses on both sides at Dien Bien Phu who did the fighting and suffering. I was familiar with this story from the days when I assisted my father in writing his memoirs of the White House years. Nevertheless, Valley of Death game me insights and made the grim facts come to life.”—John SD Eisenhower
“A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian observes that had Franklin Roosevelt served another few terms, Americans might never have had fought and died in Vietnam … The author writes of the battle in specific detail rivaling the best of Bernard Fall, Neil Sheehan and other writers on the French and American wars in Indochina, linking it to the eventual immersion of the United States in Vietnam, extending the war another 20 years . A superb portrait of battle and its reverberations beyond the fields of fire.”—Kirkus, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.