I. Connections•Two successive waves of war lasting 30 years rolled through Vietnam from 1945 to 1975.•The Vietnamese call the first wave the French War and the second wave the American War.•Goals of self-determination merged with those of national liberation in the course of these wars.•The Cold War was also in the background, with the U.S. desire to “contain communism.”
II. French Colonialism and Vietnamese Nationalism•In 1859, France brought Vietnam under its control. Later Laos and Cambodia also became French colonies.•In Vietnam, the French invested heavily in mineral extraction, rubber plantations, and manufacturing.•Wealthy Vietnamese were landowners.•The majority of the population were peasants.
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•Nationalism developed early in Vietnam, before World War I.•Many Vietnamese Nationalists received education in a new French schooling system.•Ho Chi Minh was from poor peasant background but was able to study in a French school in Vietnam. He then made his way to France (among other western destinations) working as a cook on a French steamer. •While in Europe, and inspired by the Russian Revolution, Ho became a socialist.•During the 1920s, Ho spent time in both Russia and China, allying himself in both places with the revolutionary movements underway.