Ho Chi Minh: A Life

William J. Duiker, Author
William J. Duiker, Author Hyperion Books $46 (720p) ISBN 978-0-7868-6387-7
Paperback - 695 pages - 978-0-7868-8701-9
Open Ebook - 752 pages - 978-1-4013-0561-1
Hardcover - 620 pages - 978-0-316-33201-9
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It's difficult to think of someone more qualified to write this biography than Duiker (The Communist Road to Power in Vietnam), the retired Penn State University historian who has specialized in the Vietnam War for more than three decades. In his massive, thoroughly researched andDin the mainDquite accessible new biography, Duiker succeeds extremely well in illuminating the life and times of Ho Chi MinhDlong North Vietnam's leader, a man Duiker calls a ""master motivator and strategist"" and ""one of the most influential political figures of the twentieth century."" Covering both the personal and political life of the revolutionary leader, Duiker fascinatingly traces Ho's early travels to New York, Boston and Paris, as well as his many years in exile in France, China, Thailand and (during WWII and the war against the French of 1945 to 1954) in the rugged mountains of northern VietnamDeras in Ho's life for which documentation has only recently become available. Duiker's detailed recounting of the momentous and extremely complicated events that took place in 1945 following the Japanese surrender, when Ho Chi Minh's Vietminh revolutionary party seized power in northern Vietnam, is riveting. And his account of the not-always-harmonious relations between Ho and the Communist leaders of China and the Soviet Union probes a subject that has long been overlooked by Western scholars. In the end, Duiker portrays Ho Chi Minh as a fervently anticolonial nationalist who, though a committed Marxist, honestly thought he could count on the United States, which had promised to oppose French colonization after WWII. Referring to a long-raging debate about Ho, he says, ""The issue is not whether he was a nationalist or a CommunistDin his own way he was both."" 32 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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