Saturday, September 16, 2017

No doubt one of the key people who will be profiled on “The Vietnam War” series beginning tomorrow is Ho Chi Minh.  Ho, who became familiar to millions of Americans during the 1960s, had an interesting career. When I taught Asian history to undergraduates, I would surprise them with two interesting facts about his life.

First, he was a baker in Boston before World War I.  He worked at the old and fabled Parker House Hotel in Boston.  Last year I visited the reconstituted hotel and got a sense of his work there.  The hotel has a gallery of photos of him.  And, it is reputed that the table he worked out actually survives. He also worked as a chef in London, even training with the great Auguste Escoffier.

Second, during the peace conference at Versailles, where all the great dignitaries of the world gathered, Ho, then twenty-nine, was advocating against French colonialism in Indochina.  He got nowhere and afterward became radicalized.  The history of twentieth-century Vietnam became inextricably linked to Ho Chi Minh. 

“Ho Chi Minh: A Life,” an excellent book on this multi-faced man who became a staunch foe of the United States, was written by William Duiker in 2001.

This image of a young Ho Chi Minh is taken from the photo gallery at the Omni Park House, Boston.

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