Helion's France's War in Indochina Vol. 1

Author/Artists: Stephen Rookes


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 88 pages, softcover, approx 100 images
ISBN 978-1-804510-14-8

When WWII ended in the Pacific, many of the colonial powers were anxious to return things to their pre-war conditions. However, within the areas occupied by the Japanese, nationalists has been fighting for years and felt that a return to the status quo was not in their best interests. This was true in French Indochina as it was in other parts of the world.

Disarming the Japanese took time. One thing France had in its favor was that Vichy forces were still in country until the last months of the war when they were disarmed and the French troops were taken prisoner. Meanwhile, in the northern part the communist Viet Minh had been pretty well left to their own devices. They had managed to chase out the Japanese and had set up a working government of sorts. These were the folks most opposed to the renewal of the French colonial empire.

Naturally, it took a fair amount of time to get new French forces into the area. So most of the policing was done by the Japanese who were already in place. The British were also involved in getting infrastructure back in order as they had the means. Even when the French took over, they had to rely on some of the equipment left behind, especially for air power. Fortunately, there were Japanese in place who were able to help maintain these aircraft and other equipment.

As mentioned, the Viet Minh were less than eager to let the French return to their colonial ways and actively opposed them at every opportunity. This escalated as time went on to the point that it became an outright insurrection.

The author has done a superb job of telling this story that goes from the end of WWII until the insurrection was full blown in 1949. An excellent background is provided so that we can see how events progressed from before WWII. Accompanied by a great collection of photos along with the usual excellent color profiles and maps that we've come to expect from Helion. It provides a great intro into what became decades of warfare in Indochina. A book that you really should pick up.

September 2023

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