In the Year of the Tiger
The War for Cochinchina, 1945–1951
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
In 1950, France experienced two parallel but different outcomes in its Indochina war. While the conflict in the north ended with a disastrous defeat for the French at Dien Bien Phu, in southern Vietnam, or Cochinchina, France emerged victorious in a series of violent but now largely forgotten actions. In the Year of the Tiger tells the story of this critical southern campaign, revealing in dramatic detail how the French war for Cochinchina set the stage for the American war in Vietnam.
In northern Vietnam, the French troops had focused on destroying Viet Minh main force units. A dearth of resources in the south dictated a different strategy. William M. Waddell III describes how, by avoiding costly attempts to defeat the Viet Minh in the traditional military sense, the southern French command was able to secure key economic and political strongholds. Consulting both French and Vietnamese sources, Waddell examines the principal commanders on both sides, their competing strategies, and the hard-fought military campaign that they waged for control of the south. The author’s deft analysis suggests that counter to widely accepted views, the Viet Minh were not invincible, and the outcome of the conflict in Indochina was not inevitable.
A challenge to historical orthodoxy, In the Year of the Tiger presents a more balanced interpretation of the French war for Indochina. At the same time, the book alters and expands our understanding of the precedents and the dynamics of America’s Vietnam War.
“In addressing a part of the First Indochina War that normally gets lumped into the larger context of the losing French effort, In the Year of the Tiger provides a significant and valuable addition to the understanding of the French experience in Indochina.”—James H. Willbanks, author of A Raid Too Far, Operation Lam Son 719 and Vietnamization in Laos
“A splendid, captivating military history of the so-called First Indochina War, In the Year of the Tiger underscores the importance of adaptation, modesty, patience, and prudence in waging counterinsurgency warfare. William Waddell offers invaluable lessons for making sense of the course and outcome even of the United States’ later wars in Vietnam and other theaters.”—Pierre Asselin, author of Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954–1965