Linh, Nguyen Van (nəwēˈĕn vän lĭn) [key], 1915–98, Vietnamese political leader, b. near Hanoi as Nguyen Van Cuc. As a young man he was active in organizing Vietnam's Communist party and was twice jailed (1931–36; 1941–45) for his political activities. In the years following Vietnam's independence (1945), Linh rose in the party ranks. During the Vietnam War, he was a Viet Cong guerilla leader, directing Hanoi's war efforts in South Vietnam and specializing in anti-American propaganda. In 1968 he led North Vietnam's Tet offensive, a campaign that, though militarily unsuccessful, marked the beginning of the end for South Vietnam and for American involvement in the war. Although Linh lost power during the 1980s due to his opposition to Hanoi's policy toward the South, he became the leader of the Vietnamese Communist party in 1986. Linh maintained party supremacy in the political sphere, but he revitalized Vietnam's economy by lessening state control and introducing elements of a free market system. He retired in 1991.
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