June 18, 2024
Bernard Fall is considered by many to be one of the finest analysts and writers of the Vietnam War. Much of his insight about counterinsurgency warfare in Indochina was informed by the formative experiences earlier in his life. A Better Peace welcomes Nate Moir to discuss his book, "Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare", which analyses Fall's life to understand what drove his thinking and understanding of the situation. He joins host John Nagl to explain how Fall was consistently ahead of the conventional wisdom. Fall's penetrating assessments of the war brought some rebukes and even monitoring by the FBI, but in hindsight were proved to be sadly prescient and are an outstanding example of critical thought.

Bernard Fall is considered by many to be one of the finest analysts and writers of the Vietnam War. Much of his insight about counterinsurgency warfare in Indochina was informed by the formative experiences earlier in his life. A Better Peace welcomes Nate Moir to discuss his book, Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare, which analyses Fall’s life to understand what drove his thinking and understanding of the situation. He joins host John Nagl to explain how Fall was consistently ahead of the conventional wisdom. Fall’s penetrating assessments of the war brought some rebukes and even monitoring by the FBI, but in hindsight were proved to be sadly prescient and are an outstanding example of critical thought.

When a country is being subverted, it’s not being outfought, it’s being out administered.

— Bernard Fall

Nathaniel L. Moir, Ph.D., is the author of Number One Realist: Bernard Fall and Vietnamese Revolutionary Warfare (Oxford University Press, 2022). He is a research associate in the Applied History Project at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a Critical Infrastructure Analyst with New York State’s Office of Counter Terrorism. He is also a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve and was formerly an Ernest May Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Policy at the Kennedy School.

John Nagl is an Associate Professor of Warfighting Studies at the U.S. Army War College. He is the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.

The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Top center – Bernard Fall on a Vietnam street in Quang Tri with soldiers, undated; Right – Fall on the ramp in Danang, South Vietnam, 1967.

Photo Credit: Top center – Courtesy of Dorothy Fall via National Archives; Right – U.S. Army Photo, unknown photographer.

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