The Vietnamese workers' movement took shape in mortal conflict with the French colonial power before the second world war. It suffered defeat in 1945, caught between French attempts to reassert control on one side, and an alliance of the Communist Party and reactionary nationalists on the other.
A decisive part was played in the workers' movement by the Vietnamese supporters of Leon Trotsky. As the official Communist Party, under Stalin's instructions, carried out ever more ruinous zig-zags of policy, the Trotskyists discredited and defeated them in the workers' organisations.
The Vietnamese Communist Party enforced its power in 1945 by a brutal slaughter of its Trotskyist opponents - not, as Stalinist mythology pretended, because the latter 'turned their backs on the peasantry' or 'sold themselves to Japanese fascism'.
This book sets straight the historical record after generations of falsification. It brings alive the political lessons of a period in which the Trotskyist Fourth International and the Stalinist Third International clashed, not in the arena of ideas or slogans, but in life - among workers and peasants who organised and fought in the face of poverty, police dictatorship and war.