He was killed by a landmine while accompanying United States Marines on a patrol in 1967. Fall was a political scientist, but one who had been a soldier and who spoke the soldier's language and lived the soldier's life at the front line. While teaching at the Royal Institute of Administration in Cambodia in 1962, Fall was invited to interview Ho Chi Minh and Phạm Văn Đồng in Hanoi. I first heard about Fall’s history when I was in college in the 1970s. Street Without Joy book. We don’t run advertisements. 17871259, citing Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA ; … For the first time in the war, the North and its VC allies fought in conventional formations, allowing American preponderance in air power and artillery to destroy piecemeal many Communist regiments. He was born in Vienna, to Jewish parents, who fled the Nazis in 1938 and settled in southern France. We were. Rolling Thunder. For his service, he was awarded the French Liberation Medal. After my 2016 visit to the Street Without Joy, I sought out a number of books and articles about Fall’s career, including a biography that his widow, Dorothy Fall, published in 2006, under the title Bernard Fall: Memories of a Soldier-Scholar. For too many years most government officials ignored what he wrote in his prophetic books. Not content to study Indochina from afar, Fall traveled to Vietnam in 1953, when the First Indochina War was being waged between the Viet Minh and French Union forces. By R.w. The same thing that happened to the French happened to us. The French soldiers who landed here in 1953 nicknamed one of the roads Street Without Joy, testament to the hard fighting that took place there between French forces and Viet Minh guerrillas, who blended well into a landscape that has the somber aspects of a Dutch painting. Despite Fall’s friendship with the likes of senators William Fulbright and George McGovern, among many others, nothing he could say or write about the earlier Vietnam wars made any impression on official U.S. policy in Vietnam after the French withdrawal.  Fall makes painfully clear that we had almost no understanding of what we had gotten ourselves into. We are solely supported by you, our readers. In his excellent if troubling history, Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did, Loren Bartiz writes: The killing became the objective. Young Bernard became a member of the Maquis in Savoy and fought an irregular war against the Germans until the Allies landed in Southern France. 43, No. SAIGON, South Vietnam, Feb. 21 Bernard B. He used it to document the rise of communist activity in Laos. He writes in detail about the difficulty of the fighting in this sector north of Hue: What made the operation so difficult for the French was, as usual in Indochina, the terrain. After France fell to Germany in 1940, his father Leo Fall aided the French Resistance. FALL DEAD IN VIETNAM. At best American air power could maintain a precarious balance in the fighting, but then, as Vann figured out a lot faster than the rest of the American government, dropping napalm on villages doesn’t win over a lot of hearts and minds. Fall was killed outside the small village of Lai Ha, to which, for the second time, I drove in a taxi from the city of Hue. In his book The Real War (much of it was published in 1968), New Yorker correspondent Jonathan Schell writes about Tet: “The precise target that was destroyed by the foe at Tet was not any military installation but a certain picture of the war that had been planted in the minds of the American people by their government.”, Dupe-in-chief, CBS’s evening anchor Walter Cronkite, put it like this: “What the hell is going on? We were close enough. Currey concludes: “In the middle of a tactical defeat. As fate would have it, proving how little things were to change in Vietnam, Fall would go back to the “Street Without Joy,” in February 1967, when he and a cameraman went out on a patrol there with a platoon of U.S. marines. Please, if you have the means, chip in to help us reach our annual fund drive goal. Fall did post-graduate study at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies, where he was encouraged to study Indochina. Nor could even 550,000 American soldiers and sailors ever suppress both a Viet Cong rebellion and an NVA invasion of the South. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Bernard B. When the French were defeated in the critical Battle of Dien Bien Phu, Fall claimed the United States was partly responsible for France's loss. Nor, too, given that it ignored the lessons of his histories, could I imagine that the American government would go to the trouble to consecrate the ground where he fell. Geographically, Vietnam was an invitation to a hanging, and the same illusion that in 2003 would prompt the invasion of Iraq with 145,000 men and some Blackwater contractors would send to Vietnam an army of 550,000 men, and think it could make any headway along a front that stretched more than a thousand miles, if measured along the coast. Did anyone notice that Vietnam is longer than California, with a landscape that might well be a blend of the Florida Everglades and the Allegheny Mountains? Had Fall’s words been heeded, his death—and those of so many Americans, French, and Vietnamese on these streets without joy—might have been avoided. Fall died while on patrol with elements of the First Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment. We didn’t follow it. . Three years into the American involvement in the fighting, the scenes on the nightly news were not supposed to show guerrillas on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. He combined the usual academic analysis of Indochina with a perspective of the war from the soldier's point of view. Beginning in 1953 he undertook a number of trips across Indochina, leading to his first book, Street Without Joy (1961), which was, in part, put together from some of his letters home to Dorothy. His death on what was called the Street Without Joy recalls both the French soldiers in action here in 1953 and the title of his 1961 best-selling book, which made the point that the Americans in Vietnam were doomed to repeat the earlier mistakes of the French army. Fall believed that the United States had not supported France to a sufficient extent during the First Indochina War. Bernard Fall was born in Vienna, Austria to Jewish parents Leo Fall and Anna Seligman. I thought we were winning the war.”. As I did on my first visit, I walked along the edge of the road, trying to imagine his last patrol. Later studies of the uprising indicated that, militarily, Tet was a costly offensive for the Communist side. Casting about for a subject for this Ph.D thesis at Syracuse, he was encouraged (as someone who had served in the French military during World War II) to take up the study of the First Indochina War, then raging across the country. In 1950 he first came to the United States for graduate studies at Syracuse University and Johns Hopkins University, returning and making his residence there. Left out of the war movies is that such American bravery had no influence in the outcome of the war. Due to his French citizenship, Fall was allowed to accompany French soldiers and pilots into enemy territory. The ARVN wasn’t in the war to defeat Communism so much as to prop up the succession of puppet regimes in the South, which is the bitter lesson that John Paul Vann learned at Ap Bac, when local commanders (on orders directly from Saigon) refused to commit their forces to the battle. Up in smoke went some fifteen years of serious scholarship and journalism on the subject of the French and American wars in Vietnam, perhaps one reason the fighting would continue for almost another ten years.
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