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Vietnam : the history of an unwinnable war, 1945-1975 / John Prados.

By: Prados, John.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookSeries: Modern war studies: Publisher: Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2009Description: xxvii, 665 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.ISBN: 9780700616343 (cloth : alk. paper); 0700616349 (cloth : alk. paper).Subject(s): Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- United States | United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989 | United States -- History -- 1945-Additional physical formats: Online version:: Vietnam.DDC classification: 959.704/3 Other classification: 15.75 | 15.85
Contents:
April 1971 : veterans at war -- A splendid little war -- March-July 1954: Dien Bien Phu, Geneva, and the harnessing of American power -- Many roads to quagmire (1954-1960) -- Loose the fateful lightning (1961-1964) -- August 1964: the last mystery of the Tonkin Gulf -- Burnished rows of steel (1964-1965) -- A hundred circling camps (1965-1967) -- Trampling out the vintage (1967) -- January-May 1968 : Tet Mau Than -- Terrible swift sword (1968-1969) -- Crush the serpent under heel (1969) -- Dim and flaring lamps (1969-1971) -- Die to make men free (1970) -- Sound forth the trumpet (1971) -- Evening dews and damps (1971-1972) -- Sifting out the hearts of men (1972) -- The truth comes marching home.
Summary: The Vietnam war continues to be the focus of intense controversy. While most people, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, historians, pundits, and citizens alike, agree that the United States did not win the war, a vocal minority argue the opposite or debate why victory never came, attributing the quagmire to everything from domestic politics to the press. The military never lost a battle; how then did it not win the war? Stepping back from this overheated fray and drawing upon several decades of research the author takes a fresh look at both the war and the debates about it to produce a reassessment of one of our nation's most tragic episodes. He weaves together multiple perspectives across an epic-sized canvas where domestic politics, ideologies, nations, and militaries all collide. He patiently pieces back together the events and moments, from the end of World War II until our dispiriting departure from Vietnam in 1975, that reveal a war that now appears to have been truly unwinnable due to opportunities lost, missed, ignored, or refused. He shows how, from the Truman through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, American leaders consistently ignored or misunderstood the realities in Southeast Asia and passed up every opportunity to avoid war in the first place or avoid becoming ever more mired in it after it began. Highlighting especially Eisenhower's seminal and long-lasting influence on our Vietnam policy, he demonstrates how and why our range of choices narrowed with each passing year, while our decision making continued to be distorted by Cold War politics and fundamental misperceptions about the culture, psychology, goals, and abilities of both our enemies and our allies in Vietnam.
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Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
DS558 .P743 2009 (Browse shelf) Available 0000001947829

Includes bibliographical references (p. 551-612) and index.

April 1971 : veterans at war -- A splendid little war -- March-July 1954: Dien Bien Phu, Geneva, and the harnessing of American power -- Many roads to quagmire (1954-1960) -- Loose the fateful lightning (1961-1964) -- August 1964: the last mystery of the Tonkin Gulf -- Burnished rows of steel (1964-1965) -- A hundred circling camps (1965-1967) -- Trampling out the vintage (1967) -- January-May 1968 : Tet Mau Than -- Terrible swift sword (1968-1969) -- Crush the serpent under heel (1969) -- Dim and flaring lamps (1969-1971) -- Die to make men free (1970) -- Sound forth the trumpet (1971) -- Evening dews and damps (1971-1972) -- Sifting out the hearts of men (1972) -- The truth comes marching home.

The Vietnam war continues to be the focus of intense controversy. While most people, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, historians, pundits, and citizens alike, agree that the United States did not win the war, a vocal minority argue the opposite or debate why victory never came, attributing the quagmire to everything from domestic politics to the press. The military never lost a battle; how then did it not win the war? Stepping back from this overheated fray and drawing upon several decades of research the author takes a fresh look at both the war and the debates about it to produce a reassessment of one of our nation's most tragic episodes. He weaves together multiple perspectives across an epic-sized canvas where domestic politics, ideologies, nations, and militaries all collide. He patiently pieces back together the events and moments, from the end of World War II until our dispiriting departure from Vietnam in 1975, that reveal a war that now appears to have been truly unwinnable due to opportunities lost, missed, ignored, or refused. He shows how, from the Truman through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations, American leaders consistently ignored or misunderstood the realities in Southeast Asia and passed up every opportunity to avoid war in the first place or avoid becoming ever more mired in it after it began. Highlighting especially Eisenhower's seminal and long-lasting influence on our Vietnam policy, he demonstrates how and why our range of choices narrowed with each passing year, while our decision making continued to be distorted by Cold War politics and fundamental misperceptions about the culture, psychology, goals, and abilities of both our enemies and our allies in Vietnam.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Prados (senior fellow, National Security Archive, George Washington Univ.), who has written prolifically on the Vietnam War, here provides a copiously detailed general history of that conflict. He focuses on the period from 1954 to 1975, devoting almost half of the book to the Nixon years (unlike most histories, which tend to center on the period from 1961 to 1969). As the title indicates, Prados argues that the United States had no reasonable chance of attaining its primary goal-the continued existence of a non-Communist South Vietnam. He is to be congratulated for making known his personal position, acknowledging his reputation as "an engaged leftist intellectual" who strongly opposed the war. Verdict Prados has done prodigious research in a mass of primary and secondary sources and makes a plausible case for his position, although he probably overestimates the role of the antiwar movement in shortening the war. This important and provocative work should be read by anyone studying the war, whether in academia or from personal interest-A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

CHOICE Review

In this fabulous, tightly argued analysis of existing historiography and primary source material, Prados (George Washington Univ.) masterfully debunks long-held and widely believed interpretations, e.g., Eisenhower's role during Dien Bien Phu and the Geneva Accords, and his treatment of "Diemist" apologists. These examples illuminate how Prados demolishes, not just debunks, myths about the war. The most important of his several illuminating themes may be in the passage concerning the decision to Americanize the war: "It would be better to describe the process as one of ambivalent men marching into a conflict they did not understand in pursuit of goals they had failed to clarify." This continued a policy of incremental engagement in a conflict that became important only because policymakers blindly viewed the world through a Cold War prism. Readers will not find that Prados provides a nuts-and-bolts history of the war as presented by George Moss (Vietnam, an American Ordeal, 1990; 5th ed., 2006), although his book has far more scope than existing, excellent accounts by George Herring (America's Longest War, CH, Jul'80; 4th ed., 2002) and Marilyn Young (The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990, CH, May'91, 28-5300). It will take a Herculean effort to write a better historiographic examination of the war. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. T. Zoumaras Truman State University

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