29 octobre 2021

Cercle de Lecture novembre 2021

Chers Amis,

The book to read for our Cercle de lecture on Wednesday 17th November is “Le Petit Homme d'Arkhangelsk” / “The Little Man from Archangel” by Georges Simenon.

Why not visit your favourite book store (real or online) today and get your copy so you can join in the discussion on the evening.

À bientôt, Philip

19 octobre 2021

France and Vietnam: From Indochina to Independence

Vikki Nelson returned to our talks programme on Wednesday 13 October for her presentation on France and Vietnam. She had used a sub-heading for her talk entitled from Indochina to Independence and that's where she first focussed our attention highlighting the geographical and historical contexts of the region. Indochina, she explained, comprised three areas of Vietnam, (Tonkin in the North, Annam in the Centre and Cochinchina in the South) along with Cambodia and Laos with the leased Chinese territory of Guangchuwan added in 1898.

She explained the reasons for France's involvement in the region which had to do with religious persecution, rivalry with an expanding British Empire and access to the Chinese market. She went to chart France's colonial efforts and spoke of the economic and social impacts of those imperial interventions making Indochina France's second most invested in colony. Saigon, she told us, was the sixth busiest port in the French Empire and settlers from France built Beaux-Arts buildings and other landmarks such as the Hanoi Opera House and Saigon's Notre Dame basilica.

She guided us through France's turbulent relationship with its colony through the Second World War period and beyond discussing in particular the First Indochina War and the Geneva Conference of April-July 1954 which led to French forces finally leaving the region in October of that year.  The hopes of the convention were not fulfilled and matters led to the Second Indochina War, more commonly known as the Vietnam war.

In a shorter segment of her talk she referred to the American involvement which would culminate in January 1973, nearly twenty years later, with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords.

Vikki packed much information into her exposé and members expressed their appreciation twice as perhaps because we were so attentive to the content that most had forgotten to unmute their Zoom microphones that we had to repeat the applause!

So once again thanks to Vikki for coming back to speak to us and we look forward to your next visit.

Un très grand merci !