Academic journal article Military Review

Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

Academic journal article Military Review

Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

Article excerpt

HANOI'S WAR: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

Llien-Hang T. Nguyen, The University of North Carolina Press Chapel Hill, 2012, 464 pages, $34.95

THIS IS ONE of the most important books on the Vietnam War to come along in some time. Llien-Hang T. Nguyen is a Vietnamese American who was born in Saigon in 1974. She and her family fled to the United States in 1975 as their country fell to the communists. Now an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, Nguyen, who has "kin who served on both sides," seeks to come to grips with a war that to her was "both distant and proximate." She focused her research efforts on determining "how certain leaders made specific decisions ... that led to the deaths of approximately 58,000 Americans and an estimated 2-6 million Vietnamese."

Using unprecedented access to the Foreign Ministry Archives in Hanoi and extensive interviews with many of the principals in Vietnam, Nguyen has produced a remarkable piece of scholarship that serves to correct many of the commonly held ideas about how the war was conducted on the other side. In most historiography on the war, the key players in North Vietnam are Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap. Nguyen demonstrates convincingly that the real power in Hanoi was held by the "comrades Le"--Party Secretary Le Duan and his closest ally, Le Duc Tho, who together controlled Vietnam for over half a century. Nguyen charts the rise of Le Duan from his early days in the struggle against the French in the First Indochina War to his ascendancy as First Party Secretary in 1959. Once in office, Le Duan used the police and intelligence services to eliminate rivals and consolidate his control of both the party and the state. …

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