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The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was lost in the brief fortnight between November 25 and December 7, 1953. It was not lost in the little valley in Viet-Nam’s highland jungles but in the air-conditioned map room of the French commander-in-chief. Once Giap decided to accept trial by battle at Dien Bien Phu, it remained only for 15,000 French and 50,000 Viet-Minh troops to act out the drama in pain and blood and death.

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