Book sheds new light on Viet Nam's military mastermind
by Ha Anh
|Essential reading: A new book about the life of General Giap by American historian Professor Cecil B. Currey has been translated into Vietnamese.
Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam's Gen Vo Nguyen Giap is considered the most complete research by a foreigner about the life and cause of Viet Nam's most talented general of the 20th century.
The book's author is an American historian, Professor Cecil B. Currey.
The book, translated into Vietnamese by Nguyen Van Su, was released in August to celebrate the 103rd birthday of General Vo Nguyen Giap.
The book was the result of a visit by Currey to Viet Nam where he met Gen Giap at his home in 1997.
The author recalled that Giap was happy to hear that Currey wanted to write a book about him. The General wanted the book to be written honestly and seriously by a conscientious historian.
With abundant material from different sources, the author has recreated a lively account of the General's experiences, from his younger days to when he joined the revolution and became the army's commander-in-chief.
As one of President Ho Chi Minh's top, his natural talent combined with his studies helped the General to contribute to building and developing Viet Nam's special military doctrine that was the forefront of the Vietnamese fight for independence and liberty.
According to Currey, although Giap did not have a military background, his feats were nothing short of extraordinary, not only in terms of military affairs, but also political victories.
Giap was also excellent at mobilising and organising the masses.
Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Huy Hieu, PhD of Military Science, said the book was one of the most complete and detailed books about the General written by a foreigner.
Despite the book being titled Victory at Any Cost: The Genius of Viet Nam's Gen Vo Nguyen Giap, the General was not prepared to win at any price, instead he managed to succeed using his intelligence and wit, with the fewest sacrifices and damage possible, Hieu said.
Giap was a commander-in-chief who shared the pain of every soldiers' wounds, and regretted every drop of blood that was spilt, according to Senior Lieutenant General Tran Van Tra.
Hieu said that Giap, along with President Ho Chi Minh and other talented leaders of the Viet Nam Communist Party, were the moral encouragement for the Vietnamese people and army to overcome the most violent years of war.
According to the American historian, the self-taught General studied real wars to perfect his knowledge of the art of warfare. During his military career, he confronted soldiers from France, Japan, the US, Sai Gon army, Cambodia and China.
It's possible that no other general has ever fought so many different enemies and won.
Currey also excellently retells the views of the Vietnamese people during the wars against the French and Americans.
In addition to reviewing historical events and turning points in Giap's life, Currey also analyses the question: "Why did Vo Nguyen Giap become a military genius of the 20th century?"
The author looked at different view points and assessments of the General's comrades and rivals.
He concluded that the challenges that General Giap had to overcome made him become a master of strategy, tactics and military warfare. The General is the greatest expert still alive today at mobilising the people to fight for their country.
The Washington Post's Book World wrote, "Cecil B. Currey's biography of General Vo Nguyen Giap makes clear why he is one of history's great military figures... Giap's story is a compelling one. Currey is resoundingly right about this: If we want to understanding Viet Nam and its remarkable victory over America, we should get to know their general."
According to Hieu, Currey has helped the world to understand Viet Nam's history, traditions and people, and the brilliance of Gen Giap, whom Hieu regards as "the greatest military genius of the 20th century, and one of the great men of all times". — VNS