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Publisher's Summary

In this classic account of the French war in Indochina, Bernard B. Fall vividly captures the sights, sounds, and smells of the savage eight-year conflict in the jungles and mountains of Southeast Asia from 1946 to 1954. The French fought well to the last, but even with the lethal advantages of airpower, they could not stave off the Communist-led Vietnamese nationalists, who countered with a hit-and-run campaign of ambushes, booby traps, and nighttime raids. Defeat came at Dien Bien Phu, in 1954, setting the stage for American involvement and opening another tragic chapter in Vietnam's history.

©1964 Bernard B. Fall (P)2013 Tantor

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  • Mike
  • Florence, Colorado, United States
  • 05-31-13

In 1964 this was our Vietnam textbook

September 1964 I graduated from Infantry OCS at Fort Benning Georgia. The US involvement in Vietnam consisted of Special Forces advisors, but we were fairly certain that we would end up in Vietnam. We knew very little of how the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese regulars operated, and this was our textbook, but I failed to pay attention. I was ready to go to war. November 1965 I was a platoon leader in the First Infantry Division, the first part of our buildup in Vietnam. Two months later I was at Walter Reed Army Hospital after encountering an anti-personnel device. Three months after that my replacement was killed in an ambush. Indeed our involvement in Vietnam was a Street Without Joy. An excellent book, and a very professional narration by Derek Perkins. Just learn from it.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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will we never learn?

We are, sadly, repeating the mistakes of the Vietnam war in the Middle East - i.e. seeking a military solution to a political dilemma. Our officers in Iraq should have been reading STREET WITHOUT JOY instead of SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM!


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Arius
  • Annandale, VA United States
  • 12-03-14

The Neverending Debacle

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It was, but I think I'll have to spend more time listening to it again, as I frequently do with histories. It's hard to keep things straight, partially because it's hard to keep a timeline in one's head as the events go from disaster to disaster. What's a flash-back? What's in order? I'm not sure.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

A better flow time-wise would be better. It's hard to keep all the place names straight and move from one event to another, unsure if they're directly connected, how they relate to each other... sometimes it's clear. Other times, not so much.

Which character – as performed by Derek Perkins – was your favorite?

His French accent is great so any time there's an actual conversation, he adds flavor to it quite well.

Did Street Without Joy inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to read more about the French war in Vietnam.

Any additional comments?

Generally, this is an interesting subject and really shows how skilled, operationally, Giap was. He made mistakes, but the strategic plan was spot-on.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Background to Subsequent Books

If you're interested in one of the later books on Vietnam such as Sheehan's or Karnow's, this is an excellent background on the French experience with colonial Vietnam before, during, and after WWII, and how it led to the transition to American involvement.The book is a little technical, and may seem obscure, but I would recommend powering through it before one of the later books on the U.S. in Vietnam, as it will lend excellent context.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Still great after all these years.

What did you love best about Street Without Joy?

It showed how a great military force that adapted to the terrain still got beaten. The French forces were made up of so many brilliant soldiers and they were creative in dealing with their enemies, but were undone by political factors that they did face, but not as well as their enemies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

an exceptional and almost wholly unbiased analysis of the French war in Vietnam from 1946 to 1954, with its major focus on the French operations from 51 to 54. the book is written as a manual for politicians and soldiers fighting a revolutionary war. one if the best I've ever read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • robert
  • heber, UT, United States
  • 11-20-17

Prophetic

I'm proud of the American grunts who fought in the Vietnam war. Ultimately we lost that war but capatalism is winning in Vietnam.
It's easy after a military defeat to second guess decisions and tactics, this book was prophetic in the way the war tactics would play out. It's a bit general, in the sense that it doesn't discuss individuals at length. This is refreshing and lacking at the same time. The book flows easily between battles, tactics, strategies and outcomes. The locations can get confusing, a little knowledge and a map is helpful. It's hard to believe that this book was available prior to much of the war. It's a shame that the desk jockies and miserable ' leaders"like Westmorland didn't read, or take the advice given. It would have saved a lot of lives.

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Great Book!

Easy to follow. Narrator was easy to understand and I love when he lent his accent to the french parts.

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A masterpiece!

Would you listen to Street Without Joy again? Why?

Absolutely. Whether you knew the background of French colonialism or not, when a book is narrated so well as this, you will believe the storyline. I read "Saigon" by Anthony Grey back in the 70's and since discovering Audible.com I wanted to know more. Of what was available this book seemed the best and I was not disappointed.

What other book might you compare Street Without Joy to and why?

A Savage War of Peace.

Which scene was your favorite?

Every single one.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wasn't able to this time, but to answer the question, yes!

Any additional comments?

Another masterstroke by Audible.com.

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  • uriah1970
  • Crofton, MD United States
  • 09-24-16

Never fight a land war in Asia...

We Westerners have been warned to never fight land wars in Asia, but we never listen to our own advice.

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  • Mr S.M.R.Plocki
  • 04-28-15

Missed opportunity for the US

Would you listen to Street Without Joy again? Why?

I have read this at least three times and will do so again.

What other book might you compare Street Without Joy to, and why?

The Last Valley by Martin Windrow. Windrow revisits the pre-cusors to Dien Bien Phu, the battle itself and the aftermath. Although written thirty years later when considerably more French and North Vietnamese governmental records were available, the foundational details remain the same with similar, if not the same conclusions.

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

It was fine.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Complete puzzlement in how the battle came to pass and the fact that US did not learn from the mistakes of the French in Indo-China.

Any additional comments?

A thumpingly good book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-07-14

Old Indochina Hand tells it like it was

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Fascinating listening, especially as it was written just before America's involvement in Vietnam began to involve putting lots of combat units on the ground. The author was killed by a landmine on the titular street without joy in 1967 which gives this work an added dimension.I think it bears up really well and was gripped from start to finish.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author himself, who isn't shy of talking about his own experiences and opinions

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

His voice is a good choice, his pronunciation practiced and he even gets away with doing a few accents

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Before the war you knew, there was the one you don't

Any additional comments?

I hope there are more audiobooks from this author on here

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Williams
  • 07-06-16

Great story, terrible pronunciation

Great book, still the best account of the French debacle in Indochina and although quite well read with the assumed French accent bringing the oral history to life, the pronunciation of Vietnamese place names and other nouns is unforgivably bad! Most grating was 'Viet Ming' over and over again...

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  • Mr
  • 05-16-14

Fascinating

What did you like most about Street Without Joy?

Clearly the history. It is a war which is rarely discussed, especially with the American involvement so soon afterwards. This was written while the US was still in Vietnam so his descriptions of the combat and conditions resonate with what we know of the US War.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Street Without Joy?

The story of the Jewish refugee from WWII who found his way into the French Foreign Legion and into Vietnam to confront an enemy from his past. That is a story crying out for a film to be made.

What about Derek Perkins’s performance did you like?

It wasn't business like which some historical narrations can be, he came across as interested in what he was reading.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The suffering on all sides was terrible.

Any additional comments?

Fine historical knowledge gained from this book particularly so as the war isn't that well covered. I learned things I hadn't known and my respect and pity for the French soldiers as well as admiration for the Vietnamese has increased tenfold.<br/><br/>It is also interesting to note that the US repeated so many of the French failures in Vietnam while the VC kept to broadly the same tactics. The blurb for the book states this is now required reading at American military schools as examples of counter insurgency successes and failures. I would hope such lessons are learned well to keep American soldiers safe in current wars.

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  • martin
  • 11-11-13

INTERESTING

Where does Street Without Joy rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

in the top half

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The 2 mile french convoy that was ambushed and nearly destroyed.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

In some ways its sad to see a former world power cling on to its empire by its finger tips, All Empires fall....A lesson to our current Superpowers I think.

Any additional comments?

Interesting stuff....try it...if you dont like it...send it back :)

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  • Mikhail
  • 08-04-17

Those who forget the past are bound to relive it

A fantastic book, excellent narration!

A lesson that the Americans have still failed to heed from the French in Vietnam forty four years on are still being felt to this day.