“Vietnam 1946: How the War Began” is a dramatic account of how the war started and a detailed study of the complex decision-making that lead up to the outbreak of the Indochina war in 1946. Dr. Tønnesson is a well-known and highly respected Norwegian historian who in particular has worked on East Asia, covering topics such as the history of the dispute in the South China Sea, nation-building in Southeast Asia and the Vietnamese Revolution of 1946. He is also the former director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo.
At the book launch, Dr. Tønnesson emphasized that his main objective is to “understand war in order to understand how peace can be preserved”.
Based on multiarchival research conducted over almost three decades, the book tells the tale of how a few men set off a war that would lead to tragedy for millions. Dr. Tønnesson was one of the first historians to delve into scores of formerly secret French, British, and American political, military, and intelligence documents. He challenges some of the existing conceptions about this period in his impressive account of Vietnamese modern history. General Vo Nguyen Giap is among those who Dr. Tønnesson interviewed for the book, which ends in a dialogue with Giap’s memoirs concerning the inevitability of war.
Ambassador Risa, who was hosting the event, was very pleased to see so many of Dr. Tønnesson’s Vietnamese colleagues present, and said that the importance of the book is not necessarily the conclusion but the debate about historical events that the book opens for.