The American war in Vietnam was the first major military commitment made by the United States in which we failed. Understanding why we failed is the purpose of this volume. The book looks at four critical factors that bore on U.S. conduct in Vietnam: how the war was perceived, how it was fought, whether different strategies would have succeeded, and what the war's legacy is for future U.S. conflict performance.
The origin of this volume stems from two panels on the Vietnam War at the twenty-fifth annual meeting of the Southeast Conference Association for Asian Studies held at North Carolina State Univeristy, Raleigh, January 16-18, 1986. The panelists included Joe Dunn, Peter Dunn, Noel Eggleston, Lawrence Grinter, Alan Gropman, Nguyen Hung, Earl Tilford, and John Waghelstein. The panelists agreed to revise their papers and assemble them into a book format. Lawrence Grinter and Peter Dunn volunteered to coedit the volume. In addition, Joe Dunn agreed to write the book's analytical introduction and Harry Summers was contacted for a contribution. Thus the book's contributors constitute both military officers and scholars. All but one contributor participated in the Vietnam War.
The coeditors wish to thank the fine contributions of the individual authors and the highly professional work of Mildred Vasan, Maureen Melino, Nick Allison, Trish Lorange Taylor, and others at the Greenwood Press. Both editors and contributors hope that this volume will make a further contribution to understanding the American experience in the Vietnam War and that it will better equip our country to deal with the conflicts of the future in which the United States may be involved.