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The Viet Cong campaign that shook the United States
By January 31, 1968, the U.S. had been fighting the Vietnam War for more than 10 years, but the American people never thought they wouldn't win. The Tet Offensive changed all that. Over seven bloody months the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched hundreds of attacks across South Vietnam, hitting military and political targets, including the U.S. embassy. While the attacks in and around Saigon in the south were quashed quickly, there was a prolonged battle for the city of Hue in the north. The 77-day siege captured the imagination of the world as the Marines fought a desperate battle against overwhelming odds. As the offensive petered out and the U.S. military reestablished control, the generals in Saigon and the politicians in Washington, D.C. were forced to reassess their strategy for South Vietnam. Involving more than 1.5 million combatants, of whom more than 50,000 were killed, not to mention the thousands of civilian casualties, the Tet Offensive was a bitter political victory for the communist forces.
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Andrew Rawson is the author of Bridge at Remagan and Battle Story: Iwo Jima 1945.
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