Rhetoric of Revolt: Ho Chi Minh's Discourse for Revolution

By Peter A. Decaro | Go to book overview

2
Biographical Account

Wearily to the wood the birds fly seeking rest.
Across the empty sky a lonely cloud is drifting.
In a village in the mountains, a young girl grinds out maize.
When the maize is all ground, the fire burns red in the oven.1

The keystone to Ho Chi Minh's persona, and in part, the success of his rhetorical discourse, originates with his early education and childhood. The name Ho Chi Minh is one of many pseudonyms. Unlike Mao Tse-tung, Ho never described his early life and political development to a Western observer.2 For details of his family history, childhood, and youth, we are dependent exclusively on secondhand or thirdhand information published in Hanoi.

Ho's native province was traditionally a source of nationalistic ideas. The members of his own family were not people to accept the fate of their country as immutable. Some of them were actively involved in some form of a resistance movement against the French. Ho was born Nguyen Sinh Cung on 19 May 1890,3 a descendent from a long line of brilliant scholars, who were, for the most part, junior mandarins and minor landlords.4 His paternal grandfather, Nguyen Sinh, was a trained mandarin, a man of integrity who had earned the title of Cu Nhan (Master of Arts),5 and was appointed a district governor.6 His father, Nguyen Sinh Sac (or Huy),7 was the son of a concubine rather than a first wife and, thus, was considered lower on the social scale than his elder half brothers. Nevertheless, Sinh Sac did manage to attend the village school and later became a man of letters and a mandarin like his father, and was conferred the title of Pho Bang (Doctorate of Classical Humanities).8 He eventually took a post as a secretary in the Ministry of Protocol, in Hue, but was later dismissed for having [nationalist leanings.]9

There is no date recorded for the death of Ho's mother, but it is known that she died very early in his life, around the age of ten. At the time of his mother's death, Ho lived with her; his father was living 350 miles north of the village in Thanh Hoa where he had been sent by his government. Therefore, Ho went to live with his grandparents and was raised by them. Ho's sister and older brother, natural siblings from same parents, were active in the various resistance move-

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Rhetoric of Revolt: Ho Chi Minh's Discourse for Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Content vii
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: Biographical Account 9
  • 3: Chinese Sociocultural Influences 23
  • 4: Chun Tzu:The Superior (Sage) Man 39
  • 5: Ho Chi Minh:The Chun Tzu 51
  • 6: Conclusions 87
  • Appendix A - Selected Writings of Ho Chi Minh 101
  • Appendix B - Reliable Sources: a Bibliographic 113
  • Bibliography 131
  • Index 135
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