A unique study of Vietnam from prehistory to 1972 which places the Vietnam War and Western involvement in perspective. Geography and environment have had a profound effect on Vietnamese history Рthe Vietnamese have had to contend with the power of neighboring China, a coastline that facilitated French conquest and mountains that divide the Red River delta in the north from the Mekong River valley  in the south. Also covered is the legendary origin of the Vietnamese and their emergence before the advent of Chinese influence in the 1st century B.C.; the forces that shaped the centralised Vietnamese state during the era of independence after the expulsion of the Chinese in A.D. 939; and the century of French exploitation, during which nationalist movements arose in the north and south.