The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

Synopsis

Hailed as a "pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic" (Kirkus Reviews), this wide-ranging volume offers a superb account of a key moment in modern U.S. and world history. Drawing upon the latest research in archives in China, Russia, and Vietnam, Mark Lawrence creates an extraordinary, panoramic view of all sides of the war. His narrative begins well before American forces set foot in Vietnam, delving into French colonialism's contribution to the 1945 Vietnamese revolution, and revealing how the Cold War concerns of the 1950s led the United States to back the French. The heart of the book covers the "American war," ranging from the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem and the impact of the Tet Offensive to Nixon's expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos, and the final peace agreement of 1973. Finally, Lawrence examines the aftermath of the war, from the momentous liberalization - "Doi Moi" - in Vietnam to the enduring legacy of this infamous war in American books, films, and political debate.

Excerpt

Americans and other Westerners call it simply “the Vietnam War,” but the fighting that took place in Vietnam between 1961 and 1975 has many names. The Vietnamese call it the “American War” to distinguish it from confrontations with other foreign enemies during their country's bloody twentieth century. Scholars and others striving for greater detachment prefer the “Second Indochina War” to mark it off from earlier and later conflicts and to emphasize that the fighting engulfed not just Vietnam but Cambodia and Laos as well. During the war, still other names prevailed. The Vietnamese communists labeled it grandly the “War of Liberation” or the “Anti-U.S. War of National Salvation.” American leaders, eager to downplay its significance, often called it merely the “Vietnam conflict.”

War or conflict? The Vietnam war or just one of many? War of liberation or something less heroic? Merely an episode in Vietnamese history or part of regional, perhaps even global, processes? It depends, of course, on one's point of view. Since journalists, memoirists, historians, and other commentators started writing about the war in the 1960s, the overwhelming majority of books and articles have examined it from the standpoint of the United States. They have, that is, relied on American sources . . .

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