Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Lawrence (history, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam) has written a fine brief history of the Vietnam War that relies primarily on a wide reading of secondary sources but also employing newly accessible archival materials from China, Russia, and Vietnam. Lawrence focuses on U.S. policy, yet he provides an international context, offering a healthy dose of information on the role of other major players, including North and South Vietnam, the USSR, the People's Republic of China, and several European nations. He subtly incorporates major interpretations of the war and presents a balanced, nonideological narrative. If he has an overall thesis, it is that the war was an enormously complex phenomenon that does not lend itself to simplistic analysis and simple answers. Because of the book's brevity and focus on policy, Lawrence devotes relatively little space to actual combat from the ordinary soldiers' perspective. Nonetheless, this important book will be of great value to educated lay readers as well as college students looking for a readable overview. Recommended for major libraries.--Anthony Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Study of the Vietnam War remains popular, and each year publishers provide a variety of sources that examine the conflict. Most often, these are in-depth studies explaining the US military failure in Southeast Asia. Lawrence (Univ. of Texas) seeks to change that trend by distilling the US's longest war into a short, readable narrative. Although the author does not present new evidence leading to a reexamination of Vietnam, he does focus on the interactions between Hanoi and Washington within the context of the Cold War. This brief summary of the tangled negotiations that prolonged the suffering caused by the war is perhaps Lawrence's most valuable contribution, since it covers an area that more extensive histories overlook. The author does not conclude with the US exodus from Saigon in 1975, but demonstrates that the war's long, dark shadow clouded culture and politics in the US for years to come. Unfortunately, the ghost of Vietnam will remain as long as policy makers misread the lessons of that misguided conflict. This book will become a valuable addition to any academic library seeking to expand its collection concerning Vietnam. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. C. C. Lovett Emporia State University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
Mark Atwood Lawrence is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam, which won the 2006 George Louis Beer Prize and Paul Birdsall Prize of the American Historical Association. He is also the co-editor of The First Vietnam War: Colonial Conflict and Cold War Crisis, and the editor of The New York Times Twentieth Century in Review: The Vietnam War.