First published in 1961 by Stackpole Books, Street without Joy is a classic of military history. Journalist and scholar Bernard Fall vividly captured the sights, sounds, and smells of the brutal— and politically complicated—conflict between the French and the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists in Indochina. The French fought to the bitter end, but even with the lethal advantages of a modern military, they could not stave off the Viet Minh insurgency of hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids. The final French defeat came at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, setting the stage for American involvement and a far bloodier chapter in Vietnam‘s history. Fall combined graphic reporting with deep scholarly knowledge of Vietnam and its colonial history in a book memorable in its descriptions of jungle fighting and insightful in its arguments. After more than a half a century in print, Street without Joy remains required reading.
Bernard Fall was born in Vienna in 1926, migrating to France in 1938. After his father was killed by the Gestapo and his mother killed at Auschwitz, he joined the French Resistance at sixteen, then the French Army. Following World War II, he was an analyst with the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal. Coming to the U.S. in the early 1950s, he earned a masters and a doctorate at Syracuse. He first traveled to Indochina in 1953, returning in 1957, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967, when he was killed by a mine on the “street without joy,” the highway he had described in his book. His other books include Hell in a Very Small Place (PB, Da Capo).
Fredrik Logevall is the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Professor of History. A specialist on U.S. foreign relations history and modern international history, he has previously taught at Cornell and the University of California. Logevall is the author or editor of nine books, most recently Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam (Random House, 2012), which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History and the 2013 Francis Parkman Prize, as well as the 2013 American Library in Paris Book Award and the 2013 Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign Relations.