Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bruno must be 93

During a course called “Revolutionary Warfare” we were required to read of all things, a novel, called "The Centurions" by Jean Larteguy. A bit hard to find now as it may be out of print again. In 2003, I read where the Army was reading it again, watching “The Battle of Algiers”, a film, reading Alistair Horne, and Trinquier’s treatise. I remember doing a book report on Bernard Fall’s “Hell in a Very Small Place” about the battle of Dien Bien Phu.

My teacher was a French Army Colonel, on exchange, a veteran of Algeria. He had served under Marcel "Bruno" Bigeard, a commander at Den Bien Phu, and told us a few stories now and then.

I was very interested in this period of history, even as our own Vietnam War came to a close. At first, I was fascinated by the French tenacity and bravery. But after reading Fall’s book, and given this course was about revolutions, I asked my French Army colonel after class one day about this VietMinh commander, Vo Nguyen Giap, the architect of the victory. My professor told me to study him further and remarked that Giap is a military genius. Material was thin on Giap for obvious reasons in 1973.

“Bruno” must be 93. Giap, still alive, should be 98 this year.

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