Dien Bien Phu is recognized as one of history's great battles. It began in November 1953, when French paratroopers seized a small airstrip in Northwestern Vietnam. It ended in May 1954 with tens of thousands of Vietminh troops overrunning the beseiged garrison. A third of the 15,000 French defenders died in combat, fewer than a hundred escaped into the jungle. Thousands more died in captivity. The fall of Dien Bien Phu led to the American commitment to Vietnam. Ironically, the US military repeated many of the French mistakes. Howard Simpson was at Dien Bien Phu as a combat reporter. His account is a personal one - that of a man who shared meals and wine and danger with the doomed soldiers. He is uniquely qualified to tell the story of this famous last stand.
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