Bodard was born on January 9, 1914 in Chongqing (central China) to the French consul Albert Bodard, who was stationed several years in China, i.e. in Chongking, Chengdu, Kunming and Shanghai. He grew up with the Chinese language and spoke Mandarin fluently as a child. Later on, he moved to Kunming and Shanghai after his father was positioned there. Before he reached adolescence, his mother decided to send Bodard back to France to study in a "decent school".
His experience and knowledge of Asian cultures, mostly Chinese and Vietnamese, gave him a unique perspective on events that shook the Asian world during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1944, he began his career as journalist and was sent to the Far East to cover various topics such as the south-east Asian war and the rise of communist China, First Indochina war. He progressively became one of the most famous French war correspondents for his work during the first French Indochina war and then the beginning of the American Vietnam war, wars which he later described in several books.
As he grew older, in the 1970s, he started writing novels which were essentially based on his knowledge of Asia, starting with his souvenirs when he was a child in China. His rich, baroque, detailed and sometimes humoristic style drew broad applause, and he won several French literary prizes, including the Prix Interallié for "Monsieur le consul", a book on his father while he was the French Consul in Chengdu and the Prix Goncourt for "Anne Marie", a book on the life and personality of his mother. His last book, "Le chien de Mao" (Mao's Dog), on Mao Zedong's third wife Jiang Qing, was published in 1998, the year of his death.
- The Quicksand War: Prelude to Vietnam (1963)
- La Guerre d'Indochine (1965-1967)
- The French Consul (1973)
- The Consul's Son (1975)
- Anne-Marie (1981)
- Le Chien de Mao (1998)
- Olivier Weber, Lucien Bodard, Un aventurier dans le siècle, Plon, 1997, 1021 pages
- Lucien Bodard, dit Lulu le Chinois, a film from Olivier Weber and Michel Vuillermet, France 5, 1998
- Documentary 52': Lucien Bodard[dead link]
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