Viet Nam: Where France Lost an Empire

Hanoi marks a famous victory

At the end of World War II, the French decided to reassert their century-old economic and political influence in Viet Nam. But by the mid-1940s they found themselves battling the nationalist ambitions of the Communist Viet Minh and their French-educated leader Ho Chi Minh. By 1954, with Viet Minh control spreading across the countryside, the French chose the valley of Dien Bien Phu to make a decisive stand aimed at checking the Communists. Instead, the one set-piece battle of the seven-year Indochina war led to the slaughter of 1,500 Frenchmen and, at home, to the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!