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40 Men and 12 Rifles - Indochina 1954

40 Men and 12 Rifles

Indochina 1954

By Marcelino Truong
Translated by David Homel
Categories: Graphic Novels & Non-Fiction, BIPOC, Asian Literature
Paperback : 9781551529233, 296 pages, 2023


By the author of Such a Lovely Little War and Saigon Calling, a stirring graphic novel about love, beauty, and war in 1950s Indochina

40 Men and 12 Rifles is an expansive, gripping graphic novel set in Indochina in the year leading up to 1954, when the French-held garrison at Dien Bien Phu fell after a fifty-five-day battle, which lead to the end of the first Indochina war opposing both French and Nationalist Vietnamese forces to Ho Chi Minh's National-Communist underground state. Minh (no relation to Ho) is a young man from Hanoi, an aspiring painter who dreams of experiencing la vie de boheme in Paris's Latin Quarter. To dissuade him from pursuing an artistic life, his father sends him into the countryside to tend to the family holdings. He is soon pressed into serving with the Ho Chi Minh People's Army, where he becomes a soldier, and is co-opted by his leaders to the Communist propaganda machine, despite repeatedly defying his cadres - ideological Communist commanders with whom he disagrees - becoming both hero and anti-hero in the process.

40 Men and 12 Rifles is a moving and beautifully illustrated book about the human and artistic spirit of the Indochinese people, who persevered in the face of warfare and suffering.

Full-colour throughout.


The story, drawing, details, and authenticity of the entire book are remarkable and will be considered a milestone. -Ligne Claire

Marcelino Truong's graphic novel is a work of genius, with striking and cleverly constructed graphics, compelling dialogue, and brilliant anecdotes. A real pleasure to read and destined to become a classic. -Christopher E. Goscha, professor of world history at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, and author of The Road to Dien Bien Phu, for L'Histoire


With a style close to "poetic realism," Truong brilliantly succeeds in his great leap into fiction, while upholding the precision of historical narrative. -Le Telegramme

Deeply researched and richly illustrated. -Publishers Weekly

40 Men and 12 Rifles is a fascinating look at a troubling and complex time, and Truong's art has an appealingly clean, direct style, while his writing conveys wit and heart. Both affirming and chilling. -Kirkus Reviews

A work of magnificently researched and crafted historical fiction ... In expressive rose- and sepia-toned comics, Truong brings midcentury Vietnam to life, from cosmopolitan Hanoi with its streets full of pedicabs and French-style cafes to lush rural landscapes and bombed-out war zones. This is a Vietnam war story like no other. -Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)