Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ho Chi Minh: A Life” as Want to Read:
Ho Chi Minh: A Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ho Chi Minh: A Life

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  484 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
The magisterial and authoritative biography of one of the towering and mysterious figures of the twentieth century. Ho Chi Minh's epic life helped shape the twentieth century. But never before has he been the subject of a major biography. Now William Duiker has compiled an astonishing work of history that fills this immense void. A New York Times Notable Book and one of th ...more
Paperback, 695 pages
Published November 28th 2001 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ho Chi Minh, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ho Chi Minh

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Quân Khuê
Mar 20, 2013 Quân Khuê rated it it was amazing
Nghiên cứu toàn diện về cuộc đời của Hồ Chí Minh trong mối liên hệ chặt chẽ với lịch sử Viêt Nam thế kỷ 20. Trên cơ sở nghiên cứu tư liệu về Hồ Chí Minh lưu trữ ở Việt Nam, Liên Xô, Pháp, Anh, Trung Quốc .v.v. và phỏng vấn hàng trăm nhân vật đã từng tiếp xúc hoặc làm việc với Hồ Chí Minh, tác giả cố gắng đưa ra những đánh giá khách quan về Hồ Chí Minh (cho dù ông không thể che giấu được sự ngưỡng mộ dành cho đối tượng nghiên cứu của ông). Lịch sử và sự thật vốn luôn có khoảng cách. Một sự kiện d ...more
Kay
Mar 25, 2015 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're going to pick a communist leader to read a 600-page history about, Ho Chi Minh is your man. I became interested in the Vietnamese patron after we traveled in Southeast Asia on our honeymoon. It's nearly impossible to avoid tributes to him as you travel the country, and I even saw his preserved dead body at the Hanoi mausoleum. This all piqued my interest to learn more about this figure. Especially because the museum devoted to his life assumed a lot of knowledge (and who can blame them ...more
linhtalinhtinh
Dec 22, 2012 linhtalinhtinh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic, history
Lần này tôi từ bỏ thói quen đọc sách bằng tiếng gì thì viết bình bằng tiếng ấy, vì tôi hướng tới đối tượng khác chứ không phải chỉ cho tôi.

Đây là một cuốn sách tiểu sử về Hồ Chí Minh rất công phu và chi tiết. Duiker sử dụng rất nhiều nguồn tài liệu và ông dùng tới 4 thứ tiếng để nghiên cứu (Anh, Pháp, Việt, Trung), trong đó có rất nhiều tài liệu có giá trị từ tình báo Pháp, nhưng đặc biệt hơn so với các sách khác, theo tôi thấy, là Duiker sử dụng rất nhiều các văn kiện từ Việt Nam.

Có cái hay mà
...more
Michael Gerald
Jul 17, 2012 Michael Gerald rated it liked it
A decent and balanced work on one of the most important figures in Asian history in the twentieth century, it reveals Ho as a man of ambiguity and contradiction, one who was not just a nationalist who asserted his country's sovereignty but also a scheming opportunist and pragmatist who flitted from positions in communist ideology to suit his needs and those of his cause. If he were alive today, I wonder how he would take the situation of Vietnam today: a country that has managed to rise from the ...more
Mike
Aug 06, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it
If you want to understand the roots of the Vietnam War and see it through the eyes of the other side -- Read this!
Jerome
Oct 12, 2013 Jerome rated it it was amazing
A superb biography of a mythic and often misunderstood figure. Ho has always been a difficult figure to understand; he habitually disguised himself and often reinvented his personal history. The book is thoroughly researched and strips away the aura of myth around Ho Chi Minh.

Duiker shows how Ho the long-time Comintern agent and often willing tool of Mao and Stalin often behaved in ways that cast doubt on his belief in communism, versus his ardent nationalism. Ho was pretty much a pragmatist who
...more
Jacob
Dec 11, 2009 Jacob added it
There are very few biographies that I can say, yes, I've been to see the preserved of corpse of this guy. Well, this is one. Uncle Ho, as the locals call him, lies preserved in a glass coffin in a stone mausoleum surrounded by guards, in a complex with a pretty little stilt house and a wandering garden attached to a nice museum and some cafes and a pagoda perched on one pillar, all of it fenced in together just off of Ngoc Ha and Doi Can streets, right near the botanical garden, a market, some b ...more
Quan
Jun 24, 2015 Quan rated it really liked it
A comprehensive read about Ho Chi Minh and modern Vietnam history. I have a whole new amount of respect for Ho Chi Minh after reading this. And no it's not because I think he was a saint as painted by the authority.

We can spend all day debating whether Ho is a communist or a nationalist, but for me, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter. Given the resources and circumstances, he did what he thought was the right thing to do and made the most out of it. He did achieve his goal, gaining indepe
...more
Viet Nguyen
Jun 16, 2013 Viet Nguyen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star, history
Simply great. I think this is a non-biased biography of Ho Chi Minh, a controversial figure in 20th century, not only to Vietnam and Vietnamese people, but also for the world history at that time.
Too many good details and they are highly linked together, so my only recommendation is read it !
Scott Holstad
Sep 15, 2013 Scott Holstad rated it it was amazing
I’ve always been fascinated by Ho Chi Minh, one of history’s most mysterious yet prominent figures. I’ve read what little there is on him over the years, and then finally came across this book, William Duiker’s Ho Chi Minh: A Life. What a thoroughly researched and detailed book! Duiker does a truly admirable job of piecing together information from archives and sources from all over the world to give us the best possible picture of Ho, and he does it in a reasonably objective way.

Ho Chi Minh was
...more
wally
Jan 20, 2017 wally rated it really liked it
Shelves: duiker
finished this one this afternoon. i really liked it, comprehensive as can be regarding ho's life and much of the study is a biography of the life of viet nam to the death of the man known as ho chi minh, a man of many names through his life, ho being the one most known.

i read this history/biography of ho chi minh after reading in The C.I.A. Doctors: Human Rights Violations by American Psychiatrists if the work of the oss in vietnam had continued under the cia and william donovan's leadership, th
...more
David
Sep 01, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[I]n a real revolution … the best characters do not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards comes the turn of all the pretentious intellectual failures of the time...The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane, and devoted natures; the unselfish and the intelligent may begin a movement--but it passes away from them. They are not the leaders of a revolution. They are its victims.
– Joseph Conrad, Unde
...more
Noah
Dec 19, 2013 Noah rated it really liked it
A very detailed look into the life and times of one of the most influential- although often overlooked and underrated- individuals of the twentieth century. Sadly, it is not as personal as I had hoped it would be; by this, I mean that it offered much less a description of his personal life, as in interests, activities, etc. as it did the overarching political situation facing Ho Chi Minh in his struggle to both free and unite Vietnam. However, this disappointment may be unavoidable; sources on ...more
Czarny Pies
Oct 13, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the history of South East Asia.
Shelves: asian-history
This is an outstanding biography of a career revolutionary and communist party Apparatchik. It provides tremendous insight into the workings of comintern in promoting revolution in Asian in the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s.

What is disappointing for the American reader is that this book has so little to say about the Viet Nam war at the time when the United States was involved. Duiker is convinced that Ho Chi Minh had been put out to pasture by the end of the 1950s and was purely a figurehead when
...more
La pointe de la sauce
Mar 13, 2010 La pointe de la sauce rated it really liked it
An in depth biography of the revolutionary Ho Chi Minh. In this book you learn about Uncle Ho's many different pseudo names and his revolutionary activities in France, England, China and Russia. This was a man hell bent on gaining independence and fashions himself as a communist tool to achieve this goal. It's surprising to find here as well a chasm between soviet communism -which was forever evolving- and it's branches in China and Vietnam where Ho and Mao were more concerned with narrow nation ...more
Walker
May 23, 2015 Walker rated it really liked it
After reading nearly 700 pages about Ho Chi Minh, my main takeaway was that he loved playing volleyball. Beyond that, this book really highlights what a remarkable person he was.
Phil Hill
Nov 03, 2016 Phil Hill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
An exceptionally well written work that took 30 years of research by William J Duiker, the leading scholar on the life of Ho Chi Minh. The author was stationed in the U S Embassy during the mid-60's. The history of Indochina is perplexed an area dominated by the French that led to this insane war. Franklin D Roosevelt nailed it on the head when he said the French have milked IndoChina for over 100 years and it's time for a change. What is written in the fine work is Ho Chi Minh's passion and bel ...more
Matt
Feb 19, 2017 Matt rated it it was amazing
Super bio. One of the great modern tragedies that we could not find common ground or at least detente with this guy. I mean c'mon, he washed dishes at the Parker House.
Sunny
Jul 11, 2016 Sunny added it
Who is Ho Chi Minh? This biography describes his early upbringing as the son of a Confucian scholar in the rural outskirts colonial district of Annam. Ho's pragmatism and political manouveuring throughout his life has lead to speculation (and suspicion) that he is not so much a communist, but more of a nationalist.

This book describes in detail key dates and events from colonial Indochina to the Vietnamese communist party gaining victory and independence in 1975. However, it does not really explo
...more
Ed
Jun 21, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
Duiker has produced a masterpiece of historical research and synthesis, filling in huge blank spaces in the life of one of the most important political leaders of the 20th century. Ho Chi Minh was a professional revolutionary and fighter for Vietnamese independence for almost 60 years. One of the early members of the French Communist Party, he fought and organized in Vietnam--and in China when he his home country was too dangerous--and simply never gave up.

It was interesting to see when some of
...more
Vasil Kolev
Dec 01, 2015 Vasil Kolev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
The book itself is written very well, by someone who can be classified as master of words. Although there seems to be a bias in his writing, and a lot the useful sources are still classified or hidden, the book makes makes the best of what's available.

Ho Chi Mihn himself was a very interesting person. It can be said that he was an extremely good politician, and that his biggest issue was the flawed ideology that he got forced into by the situation. Even then he was able to sidestep it most of th
...more
Chris Paxton
Jun 05, 2014 Chris Paxton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Complex Look at a Complex Man

Duiker tries to cut through all the mystique built up around Ho Chi Minh, and does a fair job. Clearly, figuring out the facts of a man who spent his life deceiving everyone in regards to his past is a a challenge. Ho wasn't the saint Vietnam wants him to be, but he wasn't the monster many westerners think of him as. Duiker's response to the question of whether Ho was a communist first or a nationalist first is perfect; he was both, but more than anything he was a pr
...more
Tomé Andrade
Jan 31, 2016 Tomé Andrade rated it really liked it
A very good biography of Ho Chi Minh that truely allows us to understand a bit who was this man and what were his main motivations. Was he a nationalist or a communist, or both - remains the central question of his political life. The period of his life until the II WW is surprisingly full of details. The last period lacks maybe of some more structured information - more than what we know from the History books - but that's understandable by the lack of Vietnamese sources regarding the Vietnames ...more
Nguyễn Hoàng Phúc
Jan 10, 2017 Nguyễn Hoàng Phúc rated it really liked it
If you are looking for a book that is well - researched, unbiased and throughout about Ho Chi Minh then this is the one. Far away from our conventional good/bad judgement, this book depicts the very real picture of a most important figure in the 20th century, far away from most of how the vast media tries to coverage him being a "good guy", or "bad guy". I enjoyed reading this book as it has the sheer complexity description of at the time politics, which most of us has never covered in such deta ...more
Wendy Ma
Jun 30, 2013 Wendy Ma rated it it was amazing
Although quite long and dense with information, the book really captured the life of Ho Chi Minh and opened my view on his character, his role in creating the modern Vietnam, and his legacy. Very detailed analysis of his life provided me a sense of who Ho Chi Minh was and the journey he had token to achieve his goal on freeing his nation. The book is filled with concrete details and evidence and is a good source to get information on Ho Chi Minh for school papers. One cannot fully understands th ...more
Liam
Extremely well done. This book will certainly become known as Professor Duiker's masterpiece, and as far as I can tell it is the most in-depth and extensively researched biography of Ho Chi Minh in any language. While there are other books on Ho's life which are useful, both to the academic as well as the casual reader (David Halberstam's 'Ho' is a good example in the latter regard), they are all made somewhat obsolete by this magisterial work of scholarship.
Jon
Apr 12, 2013 Jon rated it it was amazing
One of the most fascinating and perspective-altering biographies I've ever read. For me it ranks up there with Edmund Morris's biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and Doris Kearns Goodwin's political biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Considering Duiker had to piece together a life that involved decades on the run, dozens of aliases, and documentation in five different languages, his might be the most impressive of the three. Hats off to you, sir.
Suzanne
Mar 08, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
fascinating look at a world figure rarely discussed at length in US history books. was he loyal to the communist vision of a world revolution, or was he just trying to liberate the vietnamese people? could world events have been different if his pleas to truman for help from the US had been taken seriously? this is a great biography as well as a glimpse into the history of the region.
Roy White
Sep 11, 2014 Roy White rated it really liked it
If Ho had been American, Doris Kearns Goodwin would definitely have written his bio. This one has a lot of fascinating stuff, though maybe too many details on meetings and fine points of Marxist doctrine.
http://lippenheimer.wordpress.com/201...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered from All Sides
  • Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare
  • Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina
  • Lenin: A Biography
  • A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
  • Perfect Spy
  • The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family
  • River of Time
  • Bakunin: The Creative Passion
  • The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam
  • Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace
  • The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story
  • Once Upon a Distant War: David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett--Young War Correspondents and Their  Early Vietnam Battles
  • Embers Of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
  • Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos, 1942-1992
  • Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns
  • Valley Of Death: The Tragedy At Dien Bien Phu That Led America Into The Vietnam War
  • Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
68831
William J. Duiker is a former United States Foreign Service officer and Professor of History at Penn State University. His area of expertise is East Asia; while in the Foreign Service he spent several years in Vietnam, where an injury left him with partial hearing in one ear. Duiker is the author of Ho Chi Minh: A Life, published in 2000, which was the first comprehensive biography of Ho Chi Minh ...more
More about William J. Duiker...

Share This Book



“Perhaps the most that can be said is that HCM had become a prisoner of his own creation, a fly in amber, unable in his state of declining influence to escape the inexorable logic of a system that sacrificed the fate of individuals to the "higher morality" of the master plan.” 3 likes
More quotes…