Louis -Marie-Julien Viaud, (1850-1923), was an officer of the French Navy. Following his naval schooling and training in Brest, he was
promoted ship's lieutenant in 1881 and for the first time published a novel under the pseudonym of Pierre Loti. In 1883, he embarked
on the ship L'Atalante, participated in the French campaign against Tonkin (North Vietnam). He later published an hour by hour account
of the attack in August 1883 of Hue, the capital of Vietnam at the center of the country, in his article "Trois journées de guerre en
Annam" in the newspaper Le Figaro. It was based on his own involvement as a naval officer and on retrospective accounts of other people
who had been there. Loti described the "sinister pleasure" young French soldiers took in firing at the Vietnamese as if they were on a
hunting spree, but also mentioned their compassions and their guilt after the battle, among the destructions that they had caused.
Loti was threatened with suspension from the service, thus gaining more public notoriety. His article set off a diplomatic crisis for
the French government headed by Prime Minister Jules Ferry. European adversaries of France considered it a proof of French "atrocities"
and of a "bad colonialism" while political opposition inside the country used it to condemn "the immorality and the high cost" of the
Republican government. Republican nationalists hated him for telling so many negative things about France and its youth who was fighting
for their country. Loti was called back to Paris and reprimanded. Furious, he replied that he only described what young people had done
during a battle, and retorted that "war is never magnificent" (la guerre n'est jamais magnifique.)(Christopher E. Goscha).