In the wake of the TET offensive in March, 1968, Lyndon Johnson announced the cessation of bombing against North Vietnam and his decision not to run for president. Now, in time for the 25th anniversary of the TET offensive, Ronald Spector has written a narrative account of that bloodiest year of the war, a year that largely determined the course and outcome of the war. The battles of 1968 were costly and inconclusive, leading to a diplomatic deadlock that, in the long run, frustrated Americans and worked to the advantage of their patient enemies. Yet, by failing to break the political and military deadlock, these indecisive operations condemned the belligerents to five more years of war. Drawing upon recently declassified military records and personal documents, this book describes the desperate struggle in the jungles, mountains and rice paddies of Vietnam, as both sides mounted increasingly expensive and predictable offensives. Caught between an American government which could never make up its mind and a North Vietnamese government which refused ever to change its mind, thousands of brave men and women gave up their lives to an undefinable end. Spector gives the reader an in-depth look at the experience of the American GI, in combat and "in the rear". Drawing upon first-hand accounts by GIs who were there, as well as his own eye-witness experience as a marine in Vietnam, Spector explores the lesser-known aspects of the war: the deterioration of race relations, the growth of drug culture and the riots in the US military prisons near Saigon and Danang. The vantage point of the rank and file soldier finds its counterpart in Spector's parallel exploration of the experience of the war for the Vietnamese, from the Viet Cong soldier "born in the north to die in the south", to the South Vietnamese soldier, brave and resourceful, but hobbled by an all-pervasive system of corruption and nepotism. This history of the American military experience in Vietnam explores the bloodiest year from all angles - the personal military and political, the American and the Vietnamese. Spector has also written "Advice and Support: The Early Years of the US Army in Vietnam, 1941-1960", "Eagle Against the Sun" and "The American War with Japan".
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"Mr. Spector achieves what forests of memoirs and post-mortems of Vietnam have failed to accomplish...A coherent and often gripping account of a year in the greatest military misadventure of our century."--The New York Times Book Review
The TET Offensive of 1968 was supposed to mark a turning point in the war in Vietnam. In this brilliant and harrowing work, the bestselling author of Eagle Against the Sun shows the war that the TV missed--and reveals that TET was only the beginning. Photos.
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