Traveller, soldier, author and adventurer, William Mesny (1842-1919) was born in Jersey but spent the greater part of his life in China, most notably as a decorated officer in the imperial army of the Qing dynasty, rising to the rank of major-general by 1873. He had fought beside 'Chinese Gordon' during the Taiping Rebellion and travelled through a great many provinces in the course of a long and lively career. His experiences, coupled with his ability to consult Chinese sources, equipped him to interpret historical and contemporary events in the East for readers in the West. This 1884 work presents his 'slight historical sketch' of the region that is now northern Vietnam. At the time of publication, French forces were engaged in their Tonkin Campaign and the Sino-French War was about to erupt. Mesny's final chapters include discussion of the Black Flag Army, the scourge of French imperialism.