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SIWPS: Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu that Led America into the Vietnam War Date: March 02, 2010 from 12:15 pm to 2:00 pm EST Location: Columbia University Morningside Campus International Affairs Building, Room 1512 Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact Rohina Phadnis by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org . Book Talk: "Valley of Death: The Tragedy at Dien Bien Phu that Led America into the Vietnam War." Ted Morgan will discuss his recent book on the Vietnam War. ________________________________ "Ted Morgan answers one of the most elusive questions of our time: how and why America went into Vietnam? Until now the issue of the origins of the war was never given the thorough analysis found in Valley of Death, an amazing and essential account that was missing from all the classic Vietnam War histories. It took a writer equally comfortable with the French and the American archival record to finally deal successfully with the issue that compelled Robert McNamara to order the drafting of the Pentagon Papers. Yet even that Department of Defense study remains incomplete because the French record was only marginally touched by the researchers. That gap has finally been closed with Valley of Death."—Robert L. Miller, Co-author ofEncyclopedia of Cold War Espionage "Ted Morgan brings to life the climactic battle of Dien Bien Phu in a way no English reader has seen in four decades. This was the battle that cast the enduring mold for Southeast Asia. From contextualizing the French war in Vietnam to the desperate efforts of French and Vietnamese soldiers, and from the conference tables in Geneva, Paris, and Washington to the staff map rooms in Hanoi and at Viet Minh headquarters in the bush, Valley of Death tells this important story with verve. This is a gem of a book." —John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975 "In Valley of Death, Ted Morgan has made a significant contribution to the bookshelf of both history buff and general reader. Done in an easy, readable style, thoroughly researched, it is a story of the incredible blunders made by the French in their effort to maintain their colonial status in Indo-China from 1940 to mid 1954. It stands as a reminder of how easy it is for the Western countries to underestimate the will of "backward" peoples to fight for their freedoms both with self-sacrifice and intelligence. At the same time it is a very human story. It tells of people – of generals, diplomats, and most of all the soldiers and nurses on both sides at Dien Bien Phu who did the fighting and suffering. I was familiar with this story from the days when I assisted my father in writing his memoirs of the White House years. Nevertheless, Valley of Death game me insights and made the grim facts come to life."—John SD Eisenhower "A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian observes that had Franklin Roosevelt served another few terms, Americans might never have had fought and died in Vietnam ... The author writes of the battle in specific detail rivaling the best of Bernard Fall, Neil Sheehan and other writers on the French and American wars in Indochina, linking it to the eventual immersion of the United States in Vietnam, extending the war another 20 years . A superb portrait of battle and its reverberations beyond the fields of fire."—Kirkus, starred review Ted Morgan is a French-American writer, biographer, journalist, and historian. He was born Comte St. Charles Armand Gabriel de Gramont on March 30, 1932, in Geneva. He was the son of Gabriel Antoine Armand, Comte de Gramont (1908-1943), a hero of the French Resistance who became a French diplomat. Gramont is an old French noble family, whose name is connected to the city Gramont, Agramont in Spanish , in the south French province of Lower Navarre.After his father's death in a training flight, Morgan began to lead two parallel lives. He attended Yale University and worked as a reporter. But he was still a member (albeit a reluctant one) of the French nobility. He was drafted into the French Army where he served as a second lieutenant and propaganda officer in the Algerian War. Morgan returned to the United States and won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting in 1961 for what was described as "his moving account of the death of Leonard Warren on the Metropolitan Opera stage." At the time, Morgan was still a French citizen writing under the name of "Sanche De Gramont." In the 1970s, Morgan stopped using the byline "Sanche De Gramont." He became an American citizen in 1977, renouncing his titles of nobility. The name he adopted as a U.S. citizen, "Ted Morgan," is an anagram of "De Gramont." The new name was a conscious attempt to discard his aristocratic French past. He had had settled on a "name that conformed with the language and cultural norms of American society, a name that telephone operators and desk clerks could hear without flinching" (On Becoming American, 1978). Morgan was featured in the CBS news program 60 Minutes in 1978. The segment explored Morgan's reasons for embracing American culture and showed him eating dinner with his family in a fast food restaurant. Morgan has written much-admired biographies of Winston Churchill (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 1983, William S. Burroughs, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was named a 1982 National Book Award Finalist for his biography Maugham. He has also written for newspapers and magazines. In My Battle of Algiers, Morgan says that John Negroponte is his first cousin. His book on the Algerian war is reviewed by Robert Kaplan in COMMENTARY http://www.commentarymagazine.com/viewarticle.cfm/my-battle-of-algiers-by-ted-morgan-10071 The review of MY BATTLE OF ALGIERS in the Washington Post In the fall of 1956, while serving with the French army in the Algerian back country, Ted Morgan killed a rebel soldier during an interrogation. The man had been strung up with his hands tied behind his back, his feet hovering above the ground. "I punched him hard in the stomach," Morgan recalls. He wanted the location of the man's base camp. "I swear I don't know," the man repeated. "Then something happened to me," Morgan writes. "I was in an altered state." Over a few minutes, Morgan punched the man to death. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/09/AR2006030901889.html jim Dingeman <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----