Many would say that Ho Chi Minh is the most important figure in contemporary Vietnamese history. Born in 1890, Ho received a traditional education at the prestigious National Academy in Hue. However, he left prior to graduation, probably because of a number of issues, including his disbelief in what he was being taught and his dismay over the increasing French domination of his country. After a short career as a teacher, Ho joined on as a cook’s apprentice with a French steamship company. Following several years at sea, he moved to London and worked in a restaurant during the First World War. It was in London that he was first exposed to Marxist ideas. Just before the war ended, Ho moved to Paris, changed his name to Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot), and first came to international attention when he presented a petition to the Versailles Peace Conference demanding independence for Vietnam based on the principle of self-determination. In 1920 he became one of the founding members of the French Communist Party, and in 1923 traveled to Moscow to study Marxist theory.
In 1924 Ho went to Canton to assist in setting up a communist movement in French Indochina. He soon formed the Vietnam Revolutionary Youth League. The League espoused a combination of Leninist theory, Ho’s thoughts, and a combined social revolution with strong nationalistic ties. On the following pages are several of Ho Chi Minh’s writings. Each is followed by a number of questions and research opportunities.