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Author: Spencer C. Tucker
304 pages (March 1999)
Univ Pr of Kentucky;
ISBN: 0813109663 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.53 x 9.18 x 6.19

Table of Contents

List of maps
1 The background
2 French Indo-China
3 The Indo-China War (1946-54)
4 The Vietnam War: the United States takes over (1954-65)
5 The Vietnam War: the quagmire (1965-8)
6 The Vietnam War: the US search for a way out (1968-73)
7 The Third Vietnam War (1973-5)
8 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the
war with China
Select bibliography



Editorial Reviews
From Kirkus Reviews , January 15, 1999
paper 0-8131-0966-3 A concise, analytical survey of Vietnamese military history that concentrates on the French and American 20th-century wars. Former US Army captain Tucker (Military History/Virginia Military Institute) presents a readable, fact-filled examination of the military history of Vietnam. He begins with a brief history of the Southeast Asian nation, starting with its legendary founding in the third century b.c. Tucker clearly shows that the dominant feature of Vietnam's first thousand years was nationalist rebellion against Chinese domination. Tucker offers detailed examinations of the French colonization of Vietnam and the 19461954 French Indochina Wartwo areas that most American Vietnam War histories treat perfunctorily at best. His treatment of the American war takes up more than half the book. Tucker sticks mainly to military matters in his analysis of that controversial, highly political war. He makes a case that, from the beginning, the American military strategy was flawed because it focused on conventional warfare and paid too little attention to counterinsurgency. The ``inability'' of the American military establishment ``to forecast the [guerrilla] military threat'' in the late 1950s ``was the first great US military mistake in Vietnam,'' he says. Tucker strongly criticizes commanding general William Westmoreland and ``officials in Washington''especially President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser Henry Kissingerfor drastically underestimating the will of the North Vietnamese. Westmoreland's attrition strategy, Tucker says, was particularly ill suited against ``the Communist strategy of protracted warfare.'' Tucker uses a good deal of statistical information throughout this well-documented book. A military historian's approach to Vietnam's wars. (maps, not seen) -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the
Hardcover edition.

As someone who grew up during the Vietnam era, I wanted to read a book that would give me some understanding of what went on during the Vietnam war. I was a bit too young to really comprehend the current events as they were happening but too old for the Vietnam war to be covered in the history books I studied in school.

This book provides a good, succinct overview of the military aspects of the war. While there are allusions to events outside the military realm (the protests back in the U.S., Kennedy's assasination, etc.) the focus is definitely on the war itself. While the main focus is on the period in which the U.S. was involved in Vietnam, a significant part of the book is devoted to setting the context for that period (wars in Vietnam during ancient times and, especially the French Indo-China wars). There is also a short section on what happened after the U.S. left Vietnam. This context is interesting since the author points out how many of the mistakes made by the U.S. had been made by others during earlier times. The book is quite brief (204 pages), so the author does not go into great depth on anything. For example, the My Lai massacre takes up only a very brief paragraph. If you're looking for an in depth analysis of the war, you would probably be better off with another book. However, as a brief overview, I thought the book was quite well done.


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