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Le Duc Tho

Le Duc Tho 1911-1990

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Phan Dinh Khai was born the son of a midlevel Vietnamese civil servant in Nam Ha Province of French Indochina on October 14, 1911. He changed his name to Le Duc Tho when he became a committed revolutionary during his teenage years. In 1929 Tho joined with Ho Chi Minh (18901969) and other Vietnamese radicals in founding the Indochinese (later Vietnamese) Communist Party. For agitating against French rule, Tho and his comrades spent much of the 1930s in French colonial prisons. During World War II (19391945), Tho helped to organize the Viet Minh, the Communist-led resistance movement against the Japanese occupiers of Indochina. By the end of the war, Tho was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and a leader of the Viet Minh. When France tried to retake Indochina in 1945, Tho led southern Viet Minh resistance during the Indochina War (19461954). With the defeat of the French, North Vietnam gained independence. Tho became a member of the Politburo in 1955 and secretary of the Central Committee in 1960.

During the Vietnam War (19561975), Tho returned south to organize Viet Cong guerrilla resistance against U.S. forces and the South Vietnamese government. In 1968, when peace talks began in Paris between the United States and North Vietnam, Tho participated as a lead negotiator for the Communist side. For years, Tho stonewalled the talks with nonnegotiable demands for U.S. withdrawal and the dismantling of South Vietnams government. In 1970 Tho agreed to meet in private with U.S. national security adviser Henry Kissinger. Over the next two years, these secret back-channel discussions gradually resolved the many difficult issues involved in disengaging the United States from the Vietnam War. Finally, in October of 1972, Kissinger revealed to the world that peace is at hand, just in time to help President Richard Nixon (19131994) obtain reelection by a landslide. After one last round of U.S. bombing killed thousands of Vietnamese civilians, Tho and Kissinger signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 25, 1973.

For their role in ending the American phase of the Vietnam War, Tho and Kissinger were jointly awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize. Tho was the first Asian ever to win this honorbut he declined the award, saying that peace had not yet come to his country. Instead, Tho returned to South Vietnam to supervise the North Vietnamese offensive that delivered a Communist victory in 1975. A decade later, Tho told U.S. television viewers: We hope American wives and mothers will never again allow their husbands and sons to go to die in another Vietnam War anywhere in the world (quoted in Dowd 1985, p. A4). Tho remained active in party leadership after the war and oversaw the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978, but he opposed economic reforms introduced by his government in the 1980s. Out of step with changes in Vietnamese Communism, Tho resigned his official posts in 1986 and retired. He died of cancer on October 13, 1990.

SEE ALSO Anticolonial Movements; Communism; Guerrilla Warfare; Kissinger, Henry; Liberation Movements; Nixon, Richard M.; Nobel Peace Prize; Vietnam War

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Current Biography 1975. 1975. Le Duc Tho. 235238. New York: Wilson.

Dowd, Maureen. 1985. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho Meet Again. New York Times May 1: A4.

Lewis, Flora. 1973. Le Duc Tho. New York Times. January 24: 18.

Pace, Eric. 1990. Le Duc Tho, Top Hanoi Aide, Dies at 79. New York Times. October 14: 32.

Pearson, Richard. 1990. Le Duc Tho Dies at 78. Washington Post. October 14: B1.

Glen Gendzel

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Le Duc Tho

Le Duc Tho (lā dōōc tō), pseud. of Phan Dinh Khai (fän dĬn kī), 1911–90, Vietnamese political leader. A Vietnamese nationalist and one of the founders (1930) of the Indochinese Communist party, he opposed the French colonial regime, which twice (1930–36, 1939–44) imprisoned him. After independence and partition (1954) and Tho's appointment (1955–86) to the party politburo, he played a leading role in the North Vietnamese military during the Vietnam War. From 1968 to 1973 he was a key member of the North Vietnamese delegation to the Paris Peace Conferences. As North Vietnam's principal spokesman, Tho, along with Henry Kissinger, the United States' chief negotiator, hammered out the ceasefire of 1973. Both men were awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize, but Tho declined the prize, saying peace had not yet been established.

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"Le Duc Tho." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 28, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/le-duc-tho