In the Year of the Tiger still deserves serious consideration by scholars as a worthwhile book in the growing field of academic investigation into the First Indochina War. Despite shortfalls in commission and omission at points, Waddell provides a cogent and useful analysis on which others may usefully build. That should, after all, be the goal among those who seek to understand how the First Indochina War conditioned the disaster the United States chose to pursue after final French defeat in 1954.
To the casual student of history and foreign affairs, France’s war in Vietnam is typically a brief aside in a 50-minute lecture about America’s Vietnam War that goes something like, “You can’t truly understand America’s war in Vietnam without understanding the Franco-Indochina war,” stressing its importance, but not going much further. Indeed, this lack of coverage is reinforced by the countless books describing the American war in the 1960s. Fredrik Logevall's newest book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam, analyzes the roots of America’s involvement, beginning with the French war.