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ISBN : 978-2-9191-2269-1

Format : 17 x 24 cm

Pages : 432 pages

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Histoire de l’Indochine – la perle de l’Empire
(1624-1954) A History of Indochina – the Jewel of Empire 1624-1954

Philippe Héduy | October 2015

Philippe Heduy combines the historian's precision with the storyteller's art in bringing to life the many famous personalities who, during nearly three centuries, contributed to the epic national saga which was played out in the Far East.

The book

Philippe Heduy combines the historian's precision with the storyteller's art in bringing to life the many famous personalities who, during nearly three centuries, contributed to the epic national saga which was played out in the Far East.
Now republished, the History of Indochina is a key work of reference for all those who share a passion for the story of French colonization in South-East Asia; it is the work of a remarkable man, Philippe Heduy. An outstanding scholar and relentless researcher, the author has assembled an impressive collection of wide-ranging source materials relating to the early days of ambassadorial relations and the establishment of missions and subsequent wars as well as less well-known and intimate events that mark this epic story; a unique encounter, fierce and fiery, between two completely opposite civilizations.
Heduy's fluent writing style is not without humor as he recreates for us the sequence of events of that great, shared adventure; he provides the key to our understanding. He combines the historian's precision with the storyteller's art in bringing to life the many famous personalities who, during nearly three centuries, contributed to the epic national saga which was played out in the Far East.
From Alexandre de Rhodes, who devised Quoc-Ngu, the basis of the modern Vietnamese language, to Mgr Pigneau de Behaine, diplomat and military strategist, the author shows how the "alliance of Cross and Sword" was able to consolidate commercial interests and lead to the establishment of French Indochina. Significant and expanding commercial activity followed, supported by investors in the newly established French East India Company. Self-made men such as Jean Dupuis, sometimes of dubious character and yet quite fearless, were able to open up new trade routes in the wake of territorial gains made by flamboyant soldiers of fortune and simple adventurers, often shrouded in mystery, such as Francis Garnier, who was to become the undisputed hero in the struggle against the Black Flag mercenaries.
Then we meet the great explorers Auguste Pavie and Henri Mouhot whose discoveries were to awaken a real passion back in France for these new, enchanting horizons. There followed further French military conquests spearheaded by Courbet, Lyautey and the "governor admirals" which paved the way for the creation of French Indochina.
As a counterpoint to this epic story, the author also reveals how the creation of the "Jewel of Empire" was accompanied by the planting of the seeds of its own eventual collapse. He examines the lives of Emperor Gia Long, the head hunter gangs, Ho Chi Minh and Admiral Decoux (the Vichyist Governor-General during the Second World War who was the first to use the term Vietnam). He describes the Japanese invasion which dealt the death blow to Indochina perhaps even more effectively than the Vietminh battalions of Uncle Ho.
The History of Indochina unfolds the epic story of Empire and provides an indispensable aid to our better understanding of this region and the indissoluble links that still unite us.

The author

Philippe Heduy was born in Bethune in Northern France on 26 September 1926. He was managing editor of Elle magazine with Helene and Pierre Lazareff from 1951-1961. He was called up to fight in Algeria. There he wrote "Au Lieutenant des Taglaits", a superb novel which examines the state of mind of the French officer class. From 1961, he became chief editor of "Esprit Publique" arguing strongly against the French withdrawal from Algeria. In 1968, Heduy created the Bureau de Production Litteraire which later, in 1975, became the Societe de Production Litteraire. Between 1980 and 1983 he published four works on Algeria and Indochina. In his later writings, Philippe Heduy examined the decay of the materialist world in a three-volume work "Le Temps Universel" (1983-88). He also wrote of the contemporary spiritual crisis in two works, "2000 Ans Apres" and "L'Ere Chretienne est Notre Temps" which was published one month after his death on 1 March 1998. In that same year he arranged for "The History of Indochina - the Jewel of Empire" to be published by Albin Michel