Obituary: Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911 – 2013

Vo Nguyen Giap worked as a teacher, journalist, historian and revolutionary, a Voice of Vietnam newsarticle says. The following are newsarticles or excerpts in Chinese (from CNA, Xinhua, and Ta Kung Pao). Subtitles and links within blockquotes added during translation.

1. CNA, Taiwan, 22:49 Taiwan local time

Independence Hero

CNA Hanoi, October 4, summary report

Reuters reports that according to his family people, Vietnam’s highly respected independence hero, General Vo Nguyen Giap has died, aged 102. A government source [in Hanoi] told AFP that “I can confirm that General Vo Nguyen Giap has died today at 18:06”. A military source confirmed the time of death. Vo Nguyen Giap had been receiving treatment in a Hanoi military hospital for several years in a row.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of Vietnam’s best-known personalities of the 20th century. The guerilla tactics he adopteddefeated France in 1954 and American-supported South Vietnam in 1975, and historians see him among Montgomery, Rommel, MacArthur, and similar military giants.

Vo Nguyen Giap was one of the main founders of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam [North Vietnam], the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and of the Vietnam People’s Army. He also served as a general of the People’s Army, as defense minister, as member of the politburo, and in other functions.

2. Takungpao, Hong Kong, October 4, 23:12

“An old Friend of the Chinese People”

Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnamese important military leader in the wars of resistance against France and America, died on October 4, aged 102.


Vietnam came under control of groups leaning towards the Soviet Union and opposing China, but because of Vo Nguyen Giap’s position, there remained a balance between leaning towards China and the USSR. When overseas Chinese people [in Vietnam] were treated unfairly after 1975, Vo Nguyen Giap criticized this as “overbearing”. When the rift between China and Vietnam grew after 1978, he suggested “to ease the conflict with China”. he was dismissed [from his political functions, apparently] in February 1980, and made efforts for improvement of Sino-Vietnamese relations in 1990. Relations were normalized one year later [in 1991]. Vo Nguyen Giap was warmly referred to as “an old friend of the Chinese people”.

3. People’s Daily online, via Xinhua,

Not a Soldier from the Beginning

October 4 (same news article published by Huanqiu Shibao)

According to American media reports of October 4, the important military leader in Vietnam’s wars of resistance against France and America, Vo Nguyen Giap, has died aged 102.

Vo Nguyen Giap was born in Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province, on August 25, 1911. According to Vietnam Newsagency VNA, he is among the longest-living personalities in worldwide military history. He wasn’t a soldier from the beginning, having studied law and political economics, and later joined Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam Independence Alliance.

After the outbreak of the war of resistance against France, Vo Nguyen Giap directed military operations for several years, as defense minister and chief commander. The Vietnamese army’s victory over the French aggressor troops in the battle of Dien Bien Phu astonished the world. In his own words, it was “[Vietnam’s] first victory over the West”.

Giap lived in Chinese exile for some time as Japan invaded Vietnam, writes the BBC. His first wife was arrested during that time, and died in a French prison.

In his late years, Giap was a critic of bauxite mining in Vietnam.



» Threat of Invasion, April 29, 2009


7 Responses to “Obituary: Vo Nguyen Giap, 1911 – 2013”

  1. And also a pretty good pianist according to the BBC.



    It is autumn here,
    The leaves are turning a bright red!
    I have heard that you have died far away
    from your birth place, the village of An Xa.
    The leaves are falling onto the earth,
    You, Sun Tzu and the memory of Dien Bien Phu
    are the memories of your great departure.

    Luis Lazaro Tijerina, Burlington, VT
    October 4, 2013


  3. What a tremendous obit, luistjerina.
    And I mean it.


  4. Dear kingtubby1 thank you for reading my poem on General Giap. Although I am a published poet, my actual intellectual activity is history, I have a Master degree in history, my concentration being military history and diplomacy. I mention this in that my interest in Vo Nguyen Giap has been with me since my youth… my interest in him as a man of letters, an intellectual and a sincere revolutionary for his people has never left me. Giap will live for the ages. Again, I appreciate it that you read my elegy on Giap… Sincerely, Luis Lazaro Tijerina, Burlington, VT


  5. Have read Archimedes Patti and Bernard Fall a couple of times. DBP was preceded by a massive exercise in long distance logistics and engineering, and French hubris totally dissolved when the gun emplacements in surrounding heights let loose. (How could a bunch of peasants in rubber sandals organise such a well camouflaged feat? and they were impervious to US bombing, so deeply were they placed.)

    And this is a bit rich coming from Westmoreland: “Such a disregard for human life may make a formidable adversary, but it does not make a military genius,”

    Christ, this is coming from a Class A war criminal. Not a peep from Kissinger, another bastard who should be hauled before the courts in The Hague, in all the obits I read. Indiscriminate carpet bombing of civilians in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and not forgetting defoliants which are still playing havoc today.

    Also enjoyed reading Our Great Spring Victory by Gen Van Tien Dung, Giap’s replacement.

    When the Tet light up our TVs, you just knew the US was done for on the battle field and on the home front, later followed by images of the tamarind tree in the US embassy being cut down and helicopters being pushed off off-shore aircraft carriers.

    The US entered the Korean war with a very sub-standard army and emerged with a good one. It entered Vietnam with a very good army and emerged with a perfectly terrible one (pace Max Hastings).

    Finally, two of my favourite military historians are John Erickson and David Glantz.



  6. Dear KT, Thank you for commentary on DBP which I have studied at length and would like to do an essay on in the future. Yes, I have also read both John Erickson and David Glantz, although I consider Glantz more of research historian from which scholars and in-depth military historians can draw upon. I have always been curious about… and often wondered if Dung and Giap were friendly adversaries so to speak. I never took what Westmoreland seriously, I have often felt he was jealous of Giap. Finally, I have often felt that Bernard Fall’s early death was a great loss for modern military history… it will be interesting to see how Giap influences other military thinkers in the years to come…. Sincerely, Luis Lazaro Tijerina



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