However, the recent death of Vo Nguyen Giap, the self-taught Vietnamese general who masterminded the defeats of France and the United States to free the country from colonial rule and win national independence, has once again brought up the Vietnamese history of colonialism worldwide.
Although the heroism of Giap is somehow controversial for people from “the other side of the wars” (e.g. French colonialism advocators, pro-American/former South Vietnam forces), he is indisputably an important person of Vietnam’s history. The story of his life along with Vietnam’s battle against French colonial rule has been featured in many international news outlets, which have described him as Vietnam’s “Red Napoleon” and “one of the foremost military commanders of the 20th century” (Reuters, Time, The Guardian). French media even quoted Giap’s criticism against the French government during the colonial era (L’Humanité, Libération). In Vietnam, a national funeral was held and a widely published documentary series of his contributions to Vietnamese independence was released (Vietnamnet). This loss has created the opportunity for the Vietnamese young generation and world readers to know more about French colonialism in Southeast Asia and to think critically about its legacy in Vietnamese society, culture, and education today.