Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975

Langguth, A. J.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2002
ISBN 10: 0743212312 / ISBN 13: 9780743212311
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Synopsis: Winner of the Overseas Press Club's Cornelius J. Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book, the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal for Nonfiction, and the PEN Center West Award for Best Research Nonfiction

Twenty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, historian and journalist A. J. Langguth delivers an authoritative account of the war based on official documents not available earlier and on new reporting from both the American and Vietnamese perspectives. In Our Vietnam, Langguth takes us inside the waffling and deceitful White Houses of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon; documents the ineptness and corruption of our South Vietnamese allies; and recounts the bravery of soldiers on both sides of the war. With its broad sweep and keen insights, Our Vietnam brings together the kaleidoscopic events and personalities of the war into one engrossing and unforgettable narrative.

Review: By the evidence former New York Times war correspondent A. J. Langguth presents in Our Vietnam, that long conflict can be seen as a steadily accumulating series of missteps, misinterpretations, and mistakes. Some had their origins in earnest attempts to bring scientific method to bear on the business of killing, such as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's belief in the theory of "statistical control," a cost-benefit accounting procedure that, hitherto confined to factories, was applied to the battlefield with tragic result. Some, such as the endless argument at the Paris peace talks over the shape of the conference table, were born in the endless struggle to win the war on the propaganda front. And some, like the CIA's misreading of events that led to the 1963 coup against South Vietnamese leader Diem, arose from an almost willful refusal to recognize the realities of Vietnamese society.

In this thoroughgoing history of America's adventure in Vietnam, Langguth shows a clear appreciation for the war's many ironies--Lyndon Johnson's plan to build a huge dam on the Mekong River while bombing the neighboring countryside into submission, Ho Chi Minh's distress at having to battle the Americans, whose ally he had once been--while charting a clear narrative course through a dauntingly complex series of events. His highly readable book, ranking alongside Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History, promises to become a standard history of the era, and it is superb in every respect. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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