Academic journal article Military Review

Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam

Academic journal article Military Review

Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam

Article excerpt

KONTUM: The Battle to Save South Vietnam

Thomas P. McKenna, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2011, 376 pages, $34.95

IN LATE MARCH 1972, after most U.S. combat forces had withdrawn from Vietnam, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) launched the Easter Offensive, a massive invasion of South Vietnam that included over 130,000 soldiers with 14 divisions and 26 separate regiments supporting massive numbers of tanks and heavy artillery. The attack focused on three objectives--Quang Tri in the area just south of the DMZ, An Loc in Binh Long Province just 65 miles from Saigon (where this reviewer served in 1972), and Kontum in the Central Highlands. Although the Easter Offensive was the largest enemy operation of the war, only a handful of books have been written about it, primarily because no U.S. ground combat troops were involved. Most books on this period make only a passing reference to the battle at Kontum. Thomas P. McKenna, who served as an advisor with the 23 rd ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) Division during the battle, has written the only book focused solely on Kontum.

McKenna combines his personal experiences and extensive research from primary sources, media reports, and first-person interviews to produce a riveting account of the bitter fighting in the highlands. After addressing the background to the offensive and its opening phases, including the less than stellar performance of the ARVN at Tan Canh and Dak To in the early days of the battle in Kontum Province, the author turns his attention to the battle for the city of Kontum itself. …

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