kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975

Availability: Ready to download

An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War. Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing sc An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War. Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the 1968 Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and also much less familiar miniatures such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed two million people. Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings, and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls, and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, and Huey pilots from Arkansas. No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the twenty-first century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.


Compare
kode adsense disini

An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War. Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing sc An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War. Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the 1968 Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and also much less familiar miniatures such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed two million people. Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings, and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls, and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, and Huey pilots from Arkansas. No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the twenty-first century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.

30 review for Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    “If a soldier wanted to stay safe, his best course was to remain absolutely still, preferably in a hole: every movement made him more vulnerable. Yet it was the duty of infantrymen to move. They spent much of their field time seeking out the enemy in platoon, company, or battalion strength. For fifty thousand Americans fulfilling that role at any one time, exotic Asian nature became the new normal: the brilliant green of rice paddies, darker green of palm groves, small boys leading out water buf “If a soldier wanted to stay safe, his best course was to remain absolutely still, preferably in a hole: every movement made him more vulnerable. Yet it was the duty of infantrymen to move. They spent much of their field time seeking out the enemy in platoon, company, or battalion strength. For fifty thousand Americans fulfilling that role at any one time, exotic Asian nature became the new normal: the brilliant green of rice paddies, darker green of palm groves, small boys leading out water buffalo, farmers plodding with the patience of centuries behind ox-drawn wooden plows. At dusk grunts watched the buffalo being driven back home, flanks caked with mud from their wallows, pretty much like themselves. And somewhere concealed within all this rustic charm, there was the enemy…” - Max Hastings, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-75 This is a book I have been waiting for a long time. This is the Battle Cry of Freedom of the Vietnam War. A beautifully and pungently written single volume history that valiantly attempts the impossible task of capturing and clarifying this multilayered military, political, and human catastrophe. The Vietnam War (encompassing the First Indochina War, between the French and Vietminh, and the Second Indochina War, pitting the U.S. and South Vietnam against the North Vietnamese and Vietcong) is a historical subject I have mostly avoided. First, like World War I, it is an imposingly complex subject. Adding to the complexity is the westerner’s difficulty in pronouncing the proper nouns – both people and locations – that are required to understand the story. Finally, and most importantly, Vietnam does not feel like settled history. It is still firmly implanted in living memory. I was born after the wars of Vietnam had concluded, but I grew up surrounded by people who had experienced parts of it firsthand. We are still collectively sorting out what it all meant. The war is still controversial and still being refought. Max Hastings has convinced me that now is the time to start learning more about these tumultuous decades, which cost millions of lives and damaged many millions more; that dramatically reordered one society, and shattered another; that killed one president (Diem), destroyed another (Johnson), and tarnished a third (Nixon); that cost untold billions of dollars in military spending and economic aid; and that nearly squandered the trust that Americans have for government. In Inferno, Hastings showed a magical touch for boiling down a titanic struggle, delivering perhaps the best one-volume history of World War II. He exceeds that triumph with Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy. While smaller in terms of numbers involved and casualties incurred, the Vietnam War is far more fraught and tangled, a moral gray zone as vast as the jungles of Southeast Asia. Hastings starts with the briefest of overviews of the land over which so many people would come to grief: Vietnam comprises 126,000 square miles, a few more than Italy or metropolitan France, most of which are either mountains shrouded in exotic vegetation or flatlands of extraordinary seasonal wetness and fertility. Almost every visitor who escaped the penance of exertion in the clinging heat was awed by its beauty and penned lyrical descriptions, celebrating views of “paddy fields in which water buffalo grazed, almost every one with a white egret perched on its back picking at insects; of vegetation so bright and green that it hurt the eyes; of waits at ferries beside broad rivers the color of café crème; of gaudy pagodas and wooden homes on stilts, surrounded by dogs and ducks; of the steaming atmosphere, the ripe smells and water everywhere, giving a sense of fecundity, of nature spawning, ripening and on heat.” After that, he begins his story proper in 1945, with the French (who had been thrashed by the Germans, collaborated with the Germans, and who had fired on American troops in North Africa) being allowed to retain their colony in Indochina. (One of the terrible ifs of the Vietnam War is what might have happened if the anti-colonialist Roosevelt had not died). Vietnam ends in 1975, with the fall of Saigon to the North Vietnamese. This thirty-year interval is crammed with a library’s worth of incidents. The Vietnam War defies an easy presentation. There is no linear progression of events to follow. This is not World War II, for instance, where it is easy to track the ebb and tide of fortune by tracing territory that is lost and recaptured, decisive battles that are lost or won. The Vietnam War was fluid and ever-changing, with no front lines, no clear demarcation between friend and foe, with few large battles, and certainly no decisive ones. (An American advisor once compared the Vietnam War to an NFL game in which one team is dressed as the spectators and periodically hides the ball and runs up into the stands). With this level of narrative difficulty, Hastings’s major accomplishment is in his structure and framework, his ability to take this massive and multifaceted tale and pare it down to something that is not only comprehensible, but also a joy to read. Overall he employs a straightforward chronology, coverings events as they appear along the timeline. Though this is not a military history by any means, but he does provide set-piece reconstructions of some of the major engagements, including Dien Bien Phu, Hue, and Dai Do. Hastings also periodically employs a thematic method of approach. There is a chapter solely dedicated to Rolling Thunder, for instance, which allows him to focus on one facet of the war without distraction. Hastings also breaks his chapters down into smaller subsections, and he devotes many of those subsections to discussions on specific topics, such as the role of helicopters, the danger of booby traps, and a comparative analysis of the relative merits of the AK-47 versus the M-16. Through this all, he pays close attention to the relationship between parties. While covering the obvious strain between the U.S. and South Vietnam, he also recognizes the strife between the North Vietnamese and their guerilla allies in the south. He is also conscious that the terminology of the war can be unfamiliar and often shifts over time. Thus, when the Vietminh (devoted to throwing out the French) transformed into the Vietcong (dedicated to throwing out the Americans), Hastings is sure to let you know. Hastings is also incredibly successful in using individual stories as representative samples from which to extrapolate larger meaning. Throughout Vietnam, he continues to return to a discrete number of characters who we follow throughout the book. (A dramatis personae would have been helpful in this regard). This provides a lens that is at once wide-angled and intimate, that gives you the vast swath of experiences while also reminding you that history is not the recounting of dates and occurrences but a big story made up of countless smaller human dramas. To that end, Hastings utilizes a variety of voices: C.I.A. spooks and U.S. grunts; NVA infantrymen, VC guerillas, and communist cadres; and, of course, there are the peasants caught between impossible and opposing forces. You meet Dang Thuy Tram, a young revolutionary, the daughter of a Hanoi surgeon, whose diary was found when she was killed by an American patrol in 1970. You also meet Doug Ramsey, who spent seven years as a prisoner-of-war in unimaginable conditions. One of the things that sets Hastings apart from many other author/historians is that he writes with a distinctly sharp tone. He can be caustic, sardonic, and witty. When discussing French officers Michel Bigeard and Pierre Langlais at Dien Bien Phu he notes: “[They] were better suited to enduring crucifixion than inspiring a resurrection.” On the allocation of frontline troops as against support forces: “Maybe two-thirds of the men who came home calling themselves veterans – entitled to wear the medal and talk about their PTSD troubles – had been exposed to no greater risk than a man might incur from ill-judged sex or “bad shit” drugs.” On the circularity of the war: “This was a Groundhog Day conflict, in which contests for a portion of elephant grass, jungle, or rice paddy were repeated not merely month after month, but year upon year, with no Andie McDowell as prize in the last reel.” (I don’t know exactly why, but I am absolutely tickled at the idea of Max Hastings, the tough old foreign correspondent, sitting down to watch Groundhog Day). Vietnam was an incredibly divisive conflict, but Hastings does an admirable job maintaining his neutrality. To be sure, he often repeats conservative/hawkish complaints (that the brutality of North Vietnam’s Stalinist regime is ignored; that antiwar protestors were hopelessly naïve; that the American press didn't tell the full story), but his overall position is that of skeptic. He is constantly questioning everyone and everything. Indeed, he seems to model himself after The Quiet American’s cynical Fowler. His scathing tongue knows no political party, and he unleashes a variety of slashing attacks on Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger that reminded me of the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park. And despite his handwringing about soldiers smoking marijuana and college students hanging North Vietnamese flags, his overall conclusion is that the American effort in Vietnam was doomed. In his view, no amount of military success could have changed the fact that South Vietnam was corrupt, tainted, and hopelessly disconnected from her citizens. The struggle over the meaning of Vietnam has only just begin. We are, after all, still grappling with the American Civil War, which ended over 150 years ago. To his credit, Hastings does not attempt to draw any pat lessons. He understands that the answer to Vietnam will not be found in John Wayne’s blatantly propagandistic The Green Berets, and it will not be found in Jane Fonda’s reprehensible decision to sit on an NVA antiaircraft gun. The answer is not even in the middle, equidistant between two poles. Instead of answers, Hastings provides experiences. He superbly traces the contours of this epochal disaster by charting the courses of the people who lived through it, and those who did not survive.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hadrian

    Fifteen-year-old Viet Cong POW smoking a cigarette, 1967 When I watched Ken Burns' recent documentary on the war a few months ago, I remember, among other things, how he described the moral groundwork and the thought processes of both sides, as flawed as they were. Hastings' single-volume history of the Vietnam War does no such thing. He describes the war from the French period to the fall of Saigon with a tone of anger and moral indignation. See the repeated use of the words, in his own terms an Fifteen-year-old Viet Cong POW smoking a cigarette, 1967 When I watched Ken Burns' recent documentary on the war a few months ago, I remember, among other things, how he described the moral groundwork and the thought processes of both sides, as flawed as they were. Hastings' single-volume history of the Vietnam War does no such thing. He describes the war from the French period to the fall of Saigon with a tone of anger and moral indignation. See the repeated use of the words, in his own terms and in quotations, of "loss", "cost", "cruel", "waste", "futile", "callous", "ignorant", "vicious", "destructive". He does not spare the brutal and incompetent American leadership and the South Vietnamese government, but neither does he refrain from detailing the viciousness of the North Vietnamese leadership, especially towards the civilian population. Some of this is not new. There are no doubt hundreds of books which indict the failures of United States policy in the war, with a majority view claiming American effectiveness in the military theatre while proving utterly hapless in 'nation-building'. The sheer destructiveness of the war cast it out of all proportion to any goals of anti-communism or further societal or diplomatic objectives. This is frankly a familiar topic and I'm not sure what else I could do by summarizing it. But Hastings provides detail from the individual level to the presidential briefings and describes the total demoralization of the US army in some places by 1971. The South Vietnamese government, again, fares little better. He finds that while some soldiers intermittently fought well to defend their homes, he sees the government as a shaky house of cards, distant and isolated from the people they claimed to represent, and hopelessly corrupt. Even so, this does not mean that the North Vietnamese government are "the good guys" by default. He finds their government a Leninist dictatorship prone to acts of cruelty on a large scale. This meant mass purges and executions, forced conscription, and repeated suicidal attacks against entrenched positions - and a media control so pervasive that casualty lists were concealed and the losses and failed attacks made to disappear. Hồ Chí Minh is portrayed by Hastings as a cold and calculating ruler - when he was invalided due to a series of illnesses, Lê Duẩn emerges as the chief autocrat since the mid-1960s. Hastings finds grips from other members of the Politburo griping about his strategy. Võ Nguyên Giáp, by contrast, is a "brilliant" military leader, again impervious to his own losses, yet was often sidelined by the backbenchers who wanted a share of the glory. And for all that political leadership and promises of revolution, hundreds of thousands of people had fled as refugees between 1976 and 1996, and Hastings is sure to tell their stories too. Surely not all of them were 'reactionaries'? While this one volume cannot cover everything (I missed, for example, the descriptions of earlier ideological framing and motivations, as well as some of the 'nation building' programs the US so bungled), Hastings has done a remarkable job at telling many stories of the war, from top to bottom, and revealing the rottenness at the heart of it all.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jonny Ruddock

    As an overview of the disaster that overtook Vietnam over the thirty year period after the end of the Second World War, Max Hastings has admirably succeeded in laying bare the reasons for failure, first of the French colonial forces and then of the U.S. backed South Vietnamese government. Writing with an impartial eye, and helped by the testimonies of hundreds of the participants, the wars and political manoeuvring are described in sufficient detail to give an overview of events and the experienc As an overview of the disaster that overtook Vietnam over the thirty year period after the end of the Second World War, Max Hastings has admirably succeeded in laying bare the reasons for failure, first of the French colonial forces and then of the U.S. backed South Vietnamese government. Writing with an impartial eye, and helped by the testimonies of hundreds of the participants, the wars and political manoeuvring are described in sufficient detail to give an overview of events and the experience of the French, American, ANZAC and Vietnamese (both North and South) participants while the elements in the escalation of the war and their effects are also covered. An extensive bibliography will allow for any holes in the specifics of the story to be filled. A well balanced account of one of the great tragedies of the later twentieth century. Well worth reading as a general overview, and recommended to anyone with an interest in the conflict or area, or looking for an impartial voice.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lark Benobi

    This is a beautifully written, riveting story, a book that enlightened me in so many ways. Max Hastings never forgets that history is about human happenings--not movements, not ideologies, not guns or germs or steel. I was fourteen when the Vietnam War ended. My childhood memories are punctuated by memories of this war, and of protests against this war. What a joy, a relief even, to fill in the blanks about events that shaped my world before I could really understand them. The aspect I appreciat This is a beautifully written, riveting story, a book that enlightened me in so many ways. Max Hastings never forgets that history is about human happenings--not movements, not ideologies, not guns or germs or steel. I was fourteen when the Vietnam War ended. My childhood memories are punctuated by memories of this war, and of protests against this war. What a joy, a relief even, to fill in the blanks about events that shaped my world before I could really understand them. The aspect I appreciate most about this book is the way it humanizes actors in the war who were just names to me before--in particular Ho Chi Minh. But even the smallest actors in this story are treated humanely by Hastings--for instance a story about two old women, selling peppers: American Howard Simpson watched exuberant parachutists tearing down a Saigon street in a jeep which crushed and scattered a row of bamboo panniers, filled with red peppers laid out to drain the sun. After the vehicle passed, two old women set to work painstakingly to collect the debris and salvage what they could of their ravaged wares. Here was a minuscule event amid a vast tragedy, yet Simpson asked himself, how could it fail to influence the hears and minds of its victims, those two elderly street sellers? An elegiac recreation of a time and a war that continues to echo on into the present.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Vinh-Thang

    At long last, we have a title for my favorite historian's next book, and it's about Vietnam :) . Looking forward to read this.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    For someone who lived through this period, this book is incredibly illuminating. I went on to join the service after the war was over, I had been too young to go, and until I read this book still never understood the mystery of why we ever went to Vietnam. This book lays that out extremely well. It’s a detailed and well researched read. Interestingly, in the course of reading the book, you become familiar with the Vietnamese names used throughout, which are not necessarily memorable to a western For someone who lived through this period, this book is incredibly illuminating. I went on to join the service after the war was over, I had been too young to go, and until I read this book still never understood the mystery of why we ever went to Vietnam. This book lays that out extremely well. It’s a detailed and well researched read. Interestingly, in the course of reading the book, you become familiar with the Vietnamese names used throughout, which are not necessarily memorable to a western reader. I cannot say enough about this book. It is been a critical resource to me. I guess if I had any criticism at all, it would be that sometimes Mr. Hastings uses pronouns and it is unclear to whom they refer. But that is rare.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Conor

    This book was pretty explicitly written to capitalize on the mania around Ken Burns' "Vietnam" documentary, which I still haven't seen. I think I should probably check it out. What I wanted out of this book was an understanding of American chicanery and manipulation of public sentiment to prosecute this war that we never should have been involved with in the first place, and I'm not sure I got that. Not because it doesn't mention it--it does--but because it is weighed down by the myriad anecdote This book was pretty explicitly written to capitalize on the mania around Ken Burns' "Vietnam" documentary, which I still haven't seen. I think I should probably check it out. What I wanted out of this book was an understanding of American chicanery and manipulation of public sentiment to prosecute this war that we never should have been involved with in the first place, and I'm not sure I got that. Not because it doesn't mention it--it does--but because it is weighed down by the myriad anecdotes of skirmishes, interpersonal dynamics, and day-by-day clashes that are of historical note but not something I am particularly interested in. One thing that struck me was that after My Lai, 69% of Americans excused the massacre, saying something like "We can expect these things to happen in war." The author, a Brit and certainly no American apologist, notes that the character of a civilization cannot be judged based on whether its soldiers commit atrocities, but by whether the populace countenances them in retrospect. Regardless of whether you credit that metric, the United States fails abjectly by either assessment. I'll be reading "The Brightest Lie" with my law school roommate next. Maybe that in combination with the Burns documentary will give me a more cogent understanding of the politicking that enabled us to enter into and stay involved with this unjustifiable destruction for so long.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marks54

    This is an amazing book and likely the definitive one volume history of the Vietnam War. Max Hastings is perhaps the most accomplished historian of warfare working today and he has done fine work here. There has been much good work on Vietnam recently, which is a little surprising given the attention given to WW1 and WW2 not to mention recent Iraq and Afghanistan books. That is OK with me. I remember when LBJ sent ground troops in and guys my age had to address the draft. I was finishing college This is an amazing book and likely the definitive one volume history of the Vietnam War. Max Hastings is perhaps the most accomplished historian of warfare working today and he has done fine work here. There has been much good work on Vietnam recently, which is a little surprising given the attention given to WW1 and WW2 not to mention recent Iraq and Afghanistan books. That is OK with me. I remember when LBJ sent ground troops in and guys my age had to address the draft. I was finishing college when the fall of Saigon came and I do not believe I have followed any conflict as closely in real time. Understanding the war, of course, was another matter, and it never ceases to amaze me how the meaning of the war continues to percolate and morph into something new with each new book, article, or film. What does Hastings bring to the table? Start with his choice of time frame. Now the Vietnam war did not begin in 1964 or with Johnson or Kennedy. It’s a 30 years war that began on the heels of the Japanese defeat in 1945 and lasted until 1975. Actually, its effects lasted much longer.and continue, with the war influencing the doctrine and practice of the US military up until the first Gulf War and afterwards, when its lessons such as on counterinsurgency needed to be relearned. So the Vietnam war fits squarely into the larger arc of the 20th century, where a larger 30 years world war (s) persisted up through the fall of Communism and the exit of Soviet Bloc troops from Germany. What about the book, itself? To be honest, it was clearly written in the context of the recent and excellent Ken Burns miniseries on the war and this book is a broader and more detailed storyline for the war. I will not recommend skipping the book and watching the Burns miniseries, but I could see someone doing that. There are so many stories and subplots in the history of the war - and so much good work about it - that it is best to me to suggest where the Hastings book makes particularly memorable contributions to the story. The story of the French war and France’s exit is effective. I enjoyed the discussion of Dienbienphu and thought the discussion of the Geneva Conference informative. The details of the partition details are alluded to frequently and the book is good and discussing the settlement and all of its limitations. The book also handles the handoff between France and the US well. This transition up through Kennedy is under appreciated and Hastings is effective in reviewing it. The details of the war after 1964 are more familiar but Hastings is thorough and does a very effective job in discussing the war after the TET offensive and under Nixon/Kissinger as well as after the Paris Accords up through the final collapse. I thought that Hastings was effective in moving between levels of analysis, often from individuals and tactical situations up to high command and more global perspectives. He makes good use of the memoirs from all sides that have come to light in recent years. In this way, he can show for example how a campaign, such as the 1968 TET offensive was seen by all sides in the conflict - US, NVN, SVN, Vietcong, allies, etc. I also enjoyed how the book dealt with issues of policy and grand strategy - what the different sides thought they were trying to accomplish versus how current goals and objectives translated into specific military strategies and situations. Hastings is exceptional in adding to this a normative dimension to actively consider the moral stance of the actors across the history of the conflict. Given the huge ideological history of the war, coupled with recent efforts at revisionism, dealing with the moral dimension of action in the war also requires Hastings to attempt to achieve some balance in sorting out the positive and negatives associated with the positions of all the parties. As might be expected, sorting out the moral legacy of Nixon and Kissinger in bringing the war to a close and the troops home requires more than a little nuance by Hastings. There is really far too much going on in the book to summarize much further and there are lots and lots of fact is, dates, names, and citations. Hastings also provides his own judgements and this helps to make some sense out of what could have been a too complex narrative to use for a coherent history. He uses his opportunities to judge well. I really enjoyed the book and highly recommend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kiekiat

    Kudos to my friend Matt for reviewing this book on here and thus peaking my interest. I am not very well-read in history (or anything else) and have read maybe 3 or 4 books on the Vietnam War and own perhaps a dozen more. Most of these are books about different major or minor battles, memoirs, books about specific divisions, e.g., the tunnel rats, etc. I had no overview of the war setting aside an old version of Stanley Karnow's Vietnam, a book I could never get into. The great aspect of Sir Max Kudos to my friend Matt for reviewing this book on here and thus peaking my interest. I am not very well-read in history (or anything else) and have read maybe 3 or 4 books on the Vietnam War and own perhaps a dozen more. Most of these are books about different major or minor battles, memoirs, books about specific divisions, e.g., the tunnel rats, etc. I had no overview of the war setting aside an old version of Stanley Karnow's Vietnam, a book I could never get into. The great aspect of Sir Max Hasting's new book on Vietnam is that it is an almost complete history of the war era, beginning with the French, humiliated in WW II, trying to recapture some of their old glory by reasserting themselves in this distant colony where they had given the people culture and taught them to read Racine, in return for extracting a great deal of natural resources the country had to offer, along with the labor of the people. Some historians have said that the lessons of history are never learned. Vietnam was ruled by various Chinese Dynasties, beginning around the early first Millennium, finally evicting their Chinese overlords. They successfully repulsed the Mongol Hordes on three separate occasions in the 13th Century. The fact they repulsed the Mongols three times might have given the French pause before they sent their priests in to convert the Viets from their Mahayana Buddhism and ancestor worship to the "true" faith, a conversion process which began when French traders first came to Vietnam in the 17th Century and evolved over a span of several hundred years into the French asserting increasing control until they ruled all of Vietnam by 1884. Their dominion there was not without its troubles and there were constant portents of uprisings, along with actual uprisings against the French encroachment. Sir Max doesn't go into much detail about the country's history before the French returned in force in 1945 to reassert themselves over their lost colony. The French have made many blunders throughout their long history but this attempt to dominate Vietnam, where a rebel movement had begun stirring in the early 1940s--i.e., the Viet Minh, a communist group of reprobates with the effrontery to wish to run their country by themselves using whatever ideology they pleased. The French might have been wise to let well-enough alone, but in their hubris they attempted to subdue the communist malefactors. France, with aid from British and Japanese, stemmed the initial Viet Minh rebellion-- but this control proved tenuous and in 1946 a guerilla war broke out, resulting in a 9-year battle in which the Viet Minh, aided with weapons and money by Russia and China, outfought and outmaneuvered the French, who suffered a particularly ignominious defeat in 1954 at the Battle of Dien Ben Phu (excuse my lack of diacritical marks). At this point, the French finally realized that perhaps they were not going to win this war and talks were held at Geneva where it was agreed the French would cease fighting in Vietnam and that elections would be held in a couple of years to determine the political fate of the nation. Not everyone in Vietnam supported the communist party and a 300-day grace period was given where people from north and south could migrate wherever they saw fit. About a million Viets fled south to escape living under communist rule. Sir Max masterfully chronicles the French hubris and failure to realize the indomitable will of the Viet Minh to rid the land of croissants and mannerist playwrights. The French recruited other of their colonial minions--Algerians and various other Africans--to aid in their recolonization Meanwhile, the Americans were watching this attempt to subdue the commies quite closely. This was the Cold War era, and those of you that lived through it know that democratic nations around the world quaked in fear of world communist takeover. There was also the notion of "the domino effect," where it was assumed that if Vietnam "fell," all of SE Asia would quickly follow suit and become part of the communist hegemony slowly engulfing the "free" world. Previous to WW II, the French had wrested control of what they called "French Indochina," including Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Sir Max does an excellent job of limning the paranoia of the time prevalent in the US and Russia. Of course, some of this paranoia was a byproduct of past events, but much was overkill. One thing Sir Max's book taught me was that it takes a lot of reading of a great many books to arrive at some idea of the "truth" of historical events. In other history books, for example, I had read that President Eisenhower had been approached to have the US intervene to aid the French and had dismissed this notion unceremoniously. Sir Max's account show a President far more hawkish and anxious to intervene militarily but restrained only by the caution of his close advisors and lack of congressional support. He does send a fair amount of Americans to Vietnam to act in "advising" (read: spying) roles. Ostensibly, these "advisers" were there to shore up the S. Vietnamese army and to instruct the self-appointed President Ngo Dinh Diem who had been appointed Prime Minister and usurped the Presidency where he proved an unpopular and ineffectual leader. Meanwhile, more "advisers" streamed in so that by the time of President Kennedy's assassination there were over 60,000 Americans in Vietnam. Diem fell out of favor with his US handlers and was himself assassinated in a military coup shortly before President Kennedy's death. And on and on it goes, as Sir Max tells how the US rigged the now infamous Gulf of Tonkin affair to gain popular support to enter a full-scale war--a war that saw increasingly more American youth being conscripted into service and a great many American casualties (58,000 known by the end of the fighting. Not to mention the estimated millions of Vietnamese citizens and Viet Cong and NVA soldiers who were routinely outgunned by the superior weaponry and air power of the US and lost an estimated ten men to every one American casualty. And Sir Max drives home the point that Americans in power saw a war with Vietnam as a lost cause, a war that would be a guerilla war, which Americans were not especially skilled in fighting, and which would probably be a long war of attrition that we would probably lose. Not all American advisors felt that loss was inevitable but most felt that we would need to become more involved in helping South Vietnam since we had emerged as the "leaders of the Free World" after WW II. Another common theme running through his book is that, as with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to come, the US never had a plan for a strong leader in Vietnam who could rally the people behind a common cause. The war seemed to have become a matter of honor, and Sir Max notes that some historians are now coming round to the notion that though the war was a horrible debacle, it was necessary for the US to fight it to make a stand against the communists. Sir Max is not a "value-free," just the facts sort of historian and the journalist in him often comes out as he makes clear that Ho Chi Minh was not the avuncular "Uncle Ho" now depicted and revered by young Vietnamese who have been indoctrinated. Rather, Ho is depicted as a ruthless revolutionary in the tradition of China's Chairman Mao, a leader who perpetrated many atrocities upon his countrymen and had an "end justifies the means" mentality. Also noted are the many changes that took place among US soldiers and the American people as the war progressed and more lives were lost with seemingly no end in sight. Likewise, he recounts the malaise felt by the average Vietnamese peasant, who just longed for peace, and the fractiousness the war caused among the Vietnamese people, a people not united ideologically but definitely of one mind in wishing the American invaders to to go home. The gung-ho attitudes of the early US soldiers gave way by 1970 to many US soldiers using drugs, particularly heroin, "fragging" (killing) their superior officers if they deemed them to be incompetent, and refusal to engage in fighting or go on senseless patrols became far more commonplace as American society turned against the war in huge numbers and US fighting men often followed suit. The venality of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon in continuing the war for political gain is disdainfully noted, as is the illicit bombing in Laos and Cambodia authorized by the diabolical duo. The history continues to the bitter end with the final assault by the NVA on Saigon in 1975 and the communist takeover of the nation, with imprisonment for ARVN (S. Vietnamese Army) officers for long periods in "reeducation camps." Sir Max also touches on US prisoners of war and describes some of the gruesome conditions they lived under in captivity. The Vietnam war is far too complicated to sum up in a 752-page book, but, so far, Sir Max's history is the best and most complete I have come across. It is a well-written overview by someone who has the advantages of being both an outsider and someone who was there reporting from Vietnam and who also lived in America during some of its most troubled times in the late 1960’s. I highly recommend it for the reader who wants an introduction to the Vietnam War, or as a precursor to studying more specific battles and political intrigues and citizen unrest (in both countries) during this conflict that destroyed many lives and human spirits.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Collin Mickle

    An ambitious, thorough, and thus a little fast-paced survey of the (many and long) war years in Vietnam. Hastings keeps the focus tight -- there's relatively little on the American or (especially) French home fronts, very little geopolitics (Nixon-to-China gets part of a subchapter; the Sino-Soviet split less than that, and Hastings announces in advance that events in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia are beyond his scope) -- which makes sense, because even with that narrow focus this is a doorstoppe An ambitious, thorough, and thus a little fast-paced survey of the (many and long) war years in Vietnam. Hastings keeps the focus tight -- there's relatively little on the American or (especially) French home fronts, very little geopolitics (Nixon-to-China gets part of a subchapter; the Sino-Soviet split less than that, and Hastings announces in advance that events in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia are beyond his scope) -- which makes sense, because even with that narrow focus this is a doorstopper of a book. Hastings focuses on events on the ground. He does a good job of showing big-picture strategy (there are never enough maps in mass-market history books, but the ones in this book are at least well chosen). But it's clear his real focus is where it should be, with the men and women on the ground in uniform, on both sides. (Civilians don't get much attention, though Hastings is conscientious about noting "collateral damage" after various operations and does a good job of denouncing both sides for indiscriminate terrorizing of the population.) This book is comparable to the WWII histories of Rick Atkinson in the way the narrative is enhanced by individuals' recollections, perfectly chosen and beautifully illustrative in a pontillistic fashion. It's hard to imagine how many letters, diaries and unpublished memoirs Hastings went through in addition to personal interviews, but the results are all over every page: Dozens of distinct voices telling their own stories and giving their own impressions. It's a really remarkable achievement.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    This book by one of my favorite history writers, Max Hastings, is a brilliant achievement. It is a clearly and accessibly written account of the causes, build-up, major battles and political dynamics of the Vietnam war. All while giving very personal accounts and perspectives from real people involved in both sides of the conflict. It holds no punches in it's indictment of both sides of the war and the reasons why this was one of the darkest and most tragic conflicts in modern history. I have re This book by one of my favorite history writers, Max Hastings, is a brilliant achievement. It is a clearly and accessibly written account of the causes, build-up, major battles and political dynamics of the Vietnam war. All while giving very personal accounts and perspectives from real people involved in both sides of the conflict. It holds no punches in it's indictment of both sides of the war and the reasons why this was one of the darkest and most tragic conflicts in modern history. I have read several different books on Vietnam and loved the Ken Burns documentary on PBS, and feel that this book is currently the definitive history on the conflict. I could not recommend it higher.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Murphy

    I enjoyed this history very much. I've read other histories by Max Hastings and so expected this one to be comprehensive, analytical, full of insight, and wise. It is. This is narrative history, the story or events. His style is to combine the historical record of events with close snapshots of personal experiences, both those directly involved and those responsible for the planning and circumstances. But aside from the narrative, Hasting's brilliance is that he, better than most, has the ability I enjoyed this history very much. I've read other histories by Max Hastings and so expected this one to be comprehensive, analytical, full of insight, and wise. It is. This is narrative history, the story or events. His style is to combine the historical record of events with close snapshots of personal experiences, both those directly involved and those responsible for the planning and circumstances. But aside from the narrative, Hasting's brilliance is that he, better than most, has the ability to decode the meaning of events, the overarching history and takeaways from it in a couple of pages. These are the great kernels of insight and combinations of kernels making this one of the most balanced analyses of the war I've read. His perceptions approach the level of wisdom and is particularly acute in assessments of U. S. motivations and communist political vision. He seems to see everything clearly, from our our decisions to enter the war until our decisions to not intervene in North Vietnam's final offensive 10 years later. The ability of Hastings to make clear in a few paragraphs a complex subject others have devoted pages and even chapters to and yet still muddled, makes his achievement even more remarkable. He explains that victory was never a given for either side, and much of what he tells across 752 pages are variations of this uncertainty. It's not a military history that details the maneuvering of battalions so much as a history of decisions. And their impact. Obviously many pages are spent on such pivotal moments as 1954's Dienbienphu or 1968's Tet Offensive, or even events more shadowed, like the North Vietnamese cleansing Hue of its intellectual class. These are familiar topics. But Hastings has written of well-known, well-traveled events and made them engaging and new. It's in his telling of each phase or step of his long history that he best displays his skill at moving from the broad overview of, say, strategic planning down to individual experience. He describes and analyzes it deeply at the same time. Understanding that history is the interpretation of events directed by personalities, he includes the personal perceptions of those involved, and of both sides. As I say, a familiar story. I've read quite a lot of the war's history and yet still came across subjects which are neglected in other writings. Aware that media coverage and the antiwar dissent were largely responsible for negatively impacting the morale of our units in the field, I found fascinating Hastings's rather thorough discussion of the topic. He discusses the moral implications of almost every aspect of the war. I appreciated his views. In fact, this was most interesting to me because a week ago I'd finished Henry Kissinger's book Ending the Vietnam War in which he admits the immorality of abandoning South Vietnam to eventual defeat by the North while also deserting a cause in which we lost 58,000 lives. I thought it interesting that Hastings agrees with this assessment while also savaging Kissinger for his duplicitous role as a peace negotiator and National Security Advisor intent on getting America out of the war rather than bringing peace to South Vietnam. He tells us the story of a Marine who served in Vietnam and later became a general commanding troops in the 1st Gulf War who says the great lesson he carried home from Vietnam was "Tell the truth." Hastings does, I think. I was impressed with the book's closing chapter, "Afterwards," the analysis of results. What we're left with today is that tragic loss of millions of lives, including 58,000 Americans, the damage to America's image and credibility, and the ultimate bankruptcy of communism. What we have today is an austere communist Vietnam now, 43 years later, even more under the huge cultural influence of the west. And that cultural center of gravity is in the South where the name Ho Chi Minh City is steadily losing ground to the old name, Saigon. It's in his "Afterward" that Hastings explains what I've felt for a long time, that Korea and Vietnam were the same geopolitical situation. The final point made is that of Truong Huy San, who was 13-years old when the war ended. He tells us that South Vietnam "has proved to be the historic victor because its values increasingly dominate the country." Obviously I like this book because Hastings shares many of my own views.

  13. 4 out of 5

    William J.

    The last line in this book really sums it up. Quoting Walt Boomer, Marine Corps General, Vietnam veteran as well as veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, about Vietnam, "What was it all about? It bothers me that we didn't learn a lot. If we had, we would not have invaded Iraq" (Hastings, p. 752). Max Hastings subtitles this book, An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975. In it he details why it was so tragic. This is the most objective book about the Vietnam conflict that I have read. The author points o The last line in this book really sums it up. Quoting Walt Boomer, Marine Corps General, Vietnam veteran as well as veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, about Vietnam, "What was it all about? It bothers me that we didn't learn a lot. If we had, we would not have invaded Iraq" (Hastings, p. 752). Max Hastings subtitles this book, An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975. In it he details why it was so tragic. This is the most objective book about the Vietnam conflict that I have read. The author points out the faults and atrocities committed by all parties. The violent suppression and revenge by the North on South Vietnamese military, government and social leaders is detailed. Mr. Hastings details how and why the American people were lied to by military and political leaders. A lot of information from the Nixon tapes is used in this book. American policy and actions never really matched and strategy suffered. In the absence of strategy tactics suffered. The result was a lot of death and destruction. In his afterward the author write, "The war cost the United States $150 billion, much less than Iraq two generations later. Yet the true price was paid not in mere money, nor even in the fifty-eight thousand lost American lives...The true price was in the trauma that it inflicted (Hastings p. 745). I don't think we have recovered yet! I recommend this book to all who are interested in the Vietnam war.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David McGrogan

    4 1/2 stars. It's a fabulous book in the main (not that you would expect anything less from Max Hastings): even-handed, thrilling, impeccably researched, sympathetic, and moving. I have a few quibbles, the main one being that I thought it took a long time to get going; you can tell the author's real emotional involvement with the story only begins after Dienbienphu. I would also have liked a little more on the war's spillover into Laos and Cambodia, which Hastings deliberately and explicitly avo 4 1/2 stars. It's a fabulous book in the main (not that you would expect anything less from Max Hastings): even-handed, thrilling, impeccably researched, sympathetic, and moving. I have a few quibbles, the main one being that I thought it took a long time to get going; you can tell the author's real emotional involvement with the story only begins after Dienbienphu. I would also have liked a little more on the war's spillover into Laos and Cambodia, which Hastings deliberately and explicitly avoids, although that may have resulted in a book of genuinely impossible length. These are quibbles, though. Anybody with an interest in history should read this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    S.

    I'm a massive Max Hastings fan (7 of his books read), but this one was a miss. instead of exciting battle descriptions, the history is far more concerned with what politicians (on both sides) did. if you are interested in military history, I recommend Hastings' WW2 tomes--superb, and tightly written.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    “For this reason I was born and have come into the world,” said Jesus, “to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. John 18: 37-38 Max Hasting’s huge book (895 pages in length) is one of the finest examples of the journalist’s art that I have ever read. Time and time again, as I was immersed in its pages, did I find it reminding me of Thucydides epic Greek tragedy, The History of The Peloponnesian War. As a person who was in his “For this reason I was born and have come into the world,” said Jesus, “to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. John 18: 37-38 Max Hasting’s huge book (895 pages in length) is one of the finest examples of the journalist’s art that I have ever read. Time and time again, as I was immersed in its pages, did I find it reminding me of Thucydides epic Greek tragedy, The History of The Peloponnesian War. As a person who was in his 20s during the 1960s, that pivotal period when the United States sank ever more deeply into the morass of a land war in Southeast Asia, that war changed vital aspects of this country forever: the use of deceit and pretense to mislead and manipulate public opinion, the creation of bitter divisions among the citizenry involving the most basic questions of patriotism and loyalty, the impotence of Congress in the face of an imperial presidency, and the sowing of the seeds of distrust of authority that are still coming to fruition. Some of my buddies never came back; others did, but damaged and changed. Although it was not yet called that in this era, what we now understand to be post-traumatic syndrome was widespread in returnees. Although I was drafted, my extreme near-sightedness earned me a 4-F designation, meaning that I was rejected for military service. (I remember with what great relief my parents and I received that news! Although I had been against our involvement in Vietnam from the beginning, I had not yet come to the conviction that I was a true conscientious objector to all wars, the only kind that the government recognized as valid.) Lost Opportunities I was struck by how many times bloodshed might have been avoided if only. • At the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919 marking the end of World War I, Ho Chi Minh was part of a delegation that sought a meeting with US President Woodrow Wilson in order to plead their case for independence from the French. Unfortunately, they were not even granted the courtesy of a hearing. • Following the close of the even more devastating Second World War, when a grievously weakened France struggled to hold on to its far-flung colonial possessions, the United States could have refused to provide any aid to the French, given that it had long been the position of the deceased President Roosevelt that all colonies should be freed. But the threat of the spread of communism that the initiation of the Cold War seemed to represent caused his successors to decide to support their allies in all things in order to preserve the solidarity of the Western Alliance. • After the costly battle of Dien Biem Phu in 1954, where the French defenders were first isolated, and then overwhelmed by Vietnamese communist forces – a location foolishly selected by the French as a place to make their “last stand” – the US could have accepted the results of the subsequent Geneva peace convention as an acceptable resolution. With the French ousted, there was to be a countrywide free election in 1956 in the temporary division of Vietnam between North and South to determine its future leadership. But the United States, shaken by the “loss” of China and part of Korea to the communists, and seeing a world-wide communist conspiracy behind every anti-colonial effort, decided to stand behind the refusal of South Vietnam’s leadership to participate in that election and, instead, began the support stream of political will and monetary and military supplies that was to become a flood by 1967. • President John Kennedy, even though it was he who first sent “military advisors” into South Vietnam, openly doubted the wisdom of pursuing that struggle, and made it known to his closest aids that “after” he had won re-election in 1964 he was likely to begin winding down American participation there. Unfortunately, his assassination in November of 1963 ended that possibility. • His successor, Lyndon Johnson, while continually sharing such doubts about the wisdom of staying in Vietnam, let alone the “likelihood” of anything approaching “victory” there, feared that simply leaving would be portrayed by his Republican opponents as evidence of his lacking sufficient “guts” in the fight against communism. Consequently, he succumbed to massively increasingly the commitment of American troops to that war and, predictably, found himself further painted into the political corner as casualties quickly mounted. • Even as late as 1968, and many thousands of US youth had died, and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, there was still a chance to put an end to the slaughter. Johnson, forced to withdraw from an attempt to win the presidential election of 1968 because of rising resistance to the war, engaged in secret negotiations with the North regarding ending the war. However, his opponent Richard Nixon sought to undermine his efforts, fearing that had he been successful, his own attempt to win the presidency might have fallen short in the euphoria of gratitude that successful negotiations would have produced. So he secretly promised the North Vietnamese that if they held out until after the elections then he, Nixon, would grant them more favorable terms. This turned out to be a lie! Ignorance, and Deception As has happened over and over in the United States’ relations with peoples from Asia and the Middle East, so-called “American intelligence” has been woefully inadequate in understanding the motives and facts involved. Not only were there few who spoke Vietnamese, but their understanding of developments was seriously impeded by their conviction that the North was motivated entirely by a desire to “impose communism” everywhere and by their accompanying assumption that the North’s alleged “nationalism” was but a pretext. In marked contrast, the North’s understanding of American motives and tactics, as well as of the weaknesses of the South’s government, consistently gave them great advantage over their adversaries. Confusion also frequently led to mistakes which then, all too often, were defended through deception (in plain English, lies). The alleged “Gulf of Tonkin” incident is a prime example. The president told the American people that his decision to attack the North was in response to North Vietnamese aggression against US navy destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin. The truth was much murkier. US destroyers were in the gulf, all right, but they were not just “gathering intelligence information.” Rather, they were actively supporting South Vietnamese troops looking for both Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces. And while there was some activity by small torpedo boats of the North, it does not appear that any torpedoes were ever launched, let alone directed toward American warships. Nonetheless, confusing radio chatter convinced the captains of the destroyers that they were under attack, and that is the message that was initially communicated to Washington. Although something of the murkier truth soon emerge, that did not defer the top military – nor the president himself – from telling the American people that their ships had, in fact, been attacked. The need to show the American people that their side was “winning” led to the notorious “body counts” that, in turn, led to both exaggerations on the part of field commanders and the counting of innocent villagers killed by errant shooting or misplaced bombs as part of “the enemy.” By the mid-60s, it was apparent to American leaders that the reputed civilian heads of the Saigon government did not enjoy significant support outside the capital, and that entire portions of rural areas openly sympathized with what they saw as liberation forces. Hubris, and the Emptiness of “Honor” Also like the ancient Greeks, hubris and the alleged “necessity” of “preserving honor” played a critical role in prolonging American involvement. As has been famously observed, despite first Kennedy, and then Johnson, having available as members of their cabinet and as advisors, some of the “best and brightest” of all citizens, misunderstandings, wishful thinking, and a wish to avoid seeming “weak” all played a role in creating a form of blindness that allowed the war to continually escalate. Massive troop numbers were first introduced in order to “win,” and then their mounting casualties cited as reasons why we “couldn’t just leave” and admit it was all a costly mistake. Thucydides would have understood intimately. The “Truth” of that War? Hastings sugar-coats none of this. Through countless interviews of former combatants on all sides, as well as surviving civilians, he paints a picture of confusion, viciousness, and an interwoven mix of noble hopes, national pride, and frozen ideology that chills one to the bone. He does not picture the North as being simply a representative of a good people just yearning to be free of colonialist but, rather, shows how the leadership was quite capable of being ruthless in imposing their will and achieving their aims. Nor does he refuse to acknowledge the many good people who fought on all sides for reasons they thought important, including survival. While the Americans often blundered, and many soldiers committed acts of cruelty and unchecked violence, others, loved the Vietnamese people and tried honorably to help them. If you want the muddled “truth” of the Vietnam war, I highly recommend this important, extremely well written, and admirably researched book. You will not finish with any “simple” understand. Rather, you are likely to close its pages with a renewed awareness of how sad we humans can be. When will we learn to put war behind us?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Scott Sheriff

    If you're like me, you have enjoyed Hasting's previous histories and this one reflects his traditional strengths: even-handed analysis, concise overviews of the strategic & tactical realities, and plenty of personal anecdotes from all sides to give a flavor of what the conflict was really like. In 'Vietnam', I especially appreciated Hasting's clear-eyed assessment of the failure of leadership on all sides that led to such an epic tragedy. If I have to offer a criticism, I'd say that Hasting' If you're like me, you have enjoyed Hasting's previous histories and this one reflects his traditional strengths: even-handed analysis, concise overviews of the strategic & tactical realities, and plenty of personal anecdotes from all sides to give a flavor of what the conflict was really like. In 'Vietnam', I especially appreciated Hasting's clear-eyed assessment of the failure of leadership on all sides that led to such an epic tragedy. If I have to offer a criticism, I'd say that Hasting's account is relatively America-centric despite his best efforts. This is a common flaw of Vietnam histories and there is still a good amount of focus on the realities for North & South Vietnamese people. In conclusion, this is another solid contribution from Hastings and I'm glad that I read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dachokie

    Honest Analysis … As a fan of Max Hasting’s previous books on World War II, I was eager to read VIETNAM: AN EPIC TRAGEDY. Considering the controversy, misunderstanding and emotion triggered by any honest discussion of the Vietnam War, I found Hastings’ approach to the issue quite balanced and thorough … he lays it out for all to see. A year ago, Ken Burns released an epic documentary on the Vietnam War that I considered objective and fair, but my opinion was not universal. The war may have ended Honest Analysis … As a fan of Max Hasting’s previous books on World War II, I was eager to read VIETNAM: AN EPIC TRAGEDY. Considering the controversy, misunderstanding and emotion triggered by any honest discussion of the Vietnam War, I found Hastings’ approach to the issue quite balanced and thorough … he lays it out for all to see. A year ago, Ken Burns released an epic documentary on the Vietnam War that I considered objective and fair, but my opinion was not universal. The war may have ended over forty years ago, but the emotional pain of it will likely remain until the last survivor of the conflict passes away. An honest analysis of the war (any war for that matter) cannot be one-sided as the tragic nature of war is usually shared by all parties involved. Hastings bravely dives into the quagmire of the Vietnam War and delivers a wonderfully detailed and balanced account of this tragic historical event … and yes, the blame for the tragedy is shared. What I like about Hasting’s approach to history is that he offers concise and wonderfully detailed analysis of events. I was really drawn to Hastings after reading ARMAGEDDON - The Battle for Germany and RETRIBUTION - The Battle for Japan; I found those two books to be two of best summaries of World War II I’ve ever read. At almost 900 pages, it is fair to say this book is as concise an account one could expect on the subject as complex as the Vietnam War … especially when one factors the time before and after US involvement (which are frequently and mistakenly ignored/forgotten aspects of the war). Unlike wars in the past (the World Wars and Korea), Vietnam had no definitive front line (with the exception that it was fought in South Vietnam) and the war’s progress cannot easily be explained with a map (until the war’s end, when South Vietnam is no longer on the map). The nebulous and organic nature of the conflict is a challenge the Hastings embraced. As I was reading, I frequently wondered how tedious the research must have been to cover so much of the minutia presented in this book, but the seemingly insignificant “small” things often prove to be what is needed to get a better understanding of how and why other events unfolded. That Hastings managed to cover a detailed history of the Vietnam War (from the period ousting the French through the South Vietnam’s defeat) in 750 readable pages is somewhat miraculous. The sources for the book are what make it such a valuable read. Like Burns’ documentary, Hastings provides a well-rounded perspective of the war by including the experiences of all involved. These experiences add color and clarity to events. The contribution of former Vietcong, NVA and North Vietnamese provide a much-needed perspective of seeing the war from all sides. The book does not excuse American political and military ineptitude, nor does it tread lightly on the brutality of the communists … or the media’s narrow-minded approach to covering the war. The book never bogs down on one event and some of the most iconic/infamous parts of the war (by Western standards) tend to be glossed-over (My Lai, for example) … they are portrayed as contributing factors shaping a bigger story. Unlike the grand operations and big battles of the World Wars and Korea, the Vietnam War was a war of skirmishes big and small (usually with no strategically important outcome). While the Tet operation obviously comprises a prominent place in the book, we get a better understanding of the failed Tet operation being transformed into a political/propaganda victory by the media. Battle accounts are brief and informative to give readers an idea how the war was fought, not a detailed report of troop movements and engagements. Instead, we get a steady dose of what the combatants experienced (on all sides). Hastings opts to focus on only a handful of battles (Dai Do) that serve more as a template for the US approach to fighting. One aspect of the book I thoroughly appreciated is the account of what unfolded after the US leaves South Vietnam and doesn’t look back ... this is where the real tragedy of the conflict comes to light. While it may “seem” the Vietnam war ended following the US departure, the war raged-on for years and included some of its biggest battles. Most importantly, I found the book to be even-handed; it doesn’t shy away from drawing attention to the blundering on all sides of the conflict. The political maneuvering (lying) on all fronts is simply astounding. Oftentimes, the benefit of hindsight gives historians the opportunity to point out mistakes that could have possibly changed events (for the better), but Hastings does not go that route. Instead, he lets the readers absorb the opinions of those who experienced the conflict on all levels. In that regard, we get a more balanced and somewhat surprising array of viewpoints dictated by the varying experiences. I do not feel the book validates any one argument on the war but opts to justifiably point blame in all directions. Overall, I felt VIETNAM: AN EPIC TRAGEDY proved to be as insightful as I hoped it would be. Hastings does an excellent job of summarizing a vast and complex subject into an absorbing read. Additionally, I found the material in the book to be refreshingly new and insightful; I would be hard-pressed to not recommend this book for anyone wanting a better understanding of the Vietnam War in its entirety.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “Vietnam: an epic tragedy, 1945-75,” by Max Hastings (Harper, 2018). And tragedy it was. I have avoided reading about Vietnam partly because I lived through it at home, partly because it was such a disaster, partly because it was an American defeat. Hastings reinforces all of that, with his usual shrewd, often-biting assessments of the actors involved: Diem, Thieu, Westmoreland, Abrams, Ho, Giap, LBJ, Nixon, Kissinger, etc. His overall assessment is that there was almost nothing the Americans co “Vietnam: an epic tragedy, 1945-75,” by Max Hastings (Harper, 2018). And tragedy it was. I have avoided reading about Vietnam partly because I lived through it at home, partly because it was such a disaster, partly because it was an American defeat. Hastings reinforces all of that, with his usual shrewd, often-biting assessments of the actors involved: Diem, Thieu, Westmoreland, Abrams, Ho, Giap, LBJ, Nixon, Kissinger, etc. His overall assessment is that there was almost nothing the Americans could have done to prevent the Communists from taking over the country. As for the French, forget them: Not smart militarily, foolishly trying to recapture their colonial grandeur and wipe away the bitterness of WWII, essentially dependent on the Americans, who would go thus far and no farther. There seems to have been almost no chance that Ho would have become a democrat or turned to the West. He was a dedicated Communist from early days in France and Europe. The Communists won because, among other things, they never swerved from their goal, they were determined and sure of their ultimate victory, they were basically incorruptible, they were willing to accept huge casualties, make almost incredible sacrifices, and suffer brutal conditions. They were also, Hastings demonstrates over and over, completely ruthless, murderous, vengeful, and totalitarian from the beginning. They had no compunction about using terror on the way to victory. The south Vietnamese (a creation of the French war) were corrupt, venal, often incompetent. Most important, they did not know what they were, except that they did not want to succumb to the Communist north. Hastings documents everything, from the diplomatic details to the global conflict to the gritty, bloody, horrifying fighting itself. The Americans knew almost from the beginning that the war was unwinnable. Their soldiers and diplomats kept reporting to Washington that nothing but huge infusions of American soldiers could possibly defeat the northerners—and that it was a bad idea. But it was a tar baby---once we got involved, we couldn’t figure out how to let go. On the other side, neither the Russians nor the Chinese wanted to get involved. They were both afraid to provoke the Americans, and provided very little support to the north until they realized how it was hurting the US. Not to mention that the Soviets and the Chinese did not like nor trust one another. For the US, one must keep the context in mind: the Soviets had taken Eastern Europe and were trying hard to go further west; the Chinese Communists were triumphant; there had already been a bitter war in Korea; the domino concept was not absurd. JFK probably would not have left; LBJ wanted desperately to get out, but could not for political reasons; Nixon was a nasty piece of work, sabotaging peace talks before the 1968 election. He knew the US was going to have to withdraw---nobody from the Tet offensive onward believed the war was winnable---but would not be seen as a loser. (btw, Tet was a complete, bloody defeat for the Vietcong and NVA; they knew it, the American troops knew it, but the American public was horrified at what they saw on TV.) The conversations between Nixon and Kissinger about their diplomacy is as deeply cynical as imaginable. They lied to the South Vietnamese, to the Americans, to everyone. Once the Communists did win (though many units of the ARVN did fight gallantly), the victory actually went to North Vietnam. The Vietcong were pushed aside. Vietnam is still ruled by an almost anachronistic, post-Stalinist regime. Tragedy on tragedy. https://books.google.com/books/about/...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Robert Walkley

    Muhammad Ali once said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Congs.” He paid a price for telling the truth. A few others back then also told the truth about Viet Nam and paid a price. Updating the truth about the war is what Max Hastings seeks to do in Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975. With his book weighing in at 752 pages of text, Hastings gives a thorough account of the Vietnam war. Sometimes, I thought the book--like the war--would never end. But there’s a good reason for that: there’s a Muhammad Ali once said, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Congs.” He paid a price for telling the truth. A few others back then also told the truth about Viet Nam and paid a price. Updating the truth about the war is what Max Hastings seeks to do in Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975. With his book weighing in at 752 pages of text, Hastings gives a thorough account of the Vietnam war. Sometimes, I thought the book--like the war--would never end. But there’s a good reason for that: there’s a lot to cover! Hastings give a lot of factual evidence and analyzes many military and political decisions. But he is also a storyteller. He tells stories of the ground troops in battles. He shows us what POWs and ordinary people had to suffer through. He tells us what it’s like to land a Huey in a war zone or to fly a B-52 all the way from Guam, and much more. Of special value, he tells stories from the North’s point of view. All this makes for an immense but gripping narrative. Hastings seems to cover nearly everything (I wish he’d written more about Agent Orange and probed more deeply into race relations.) Hastings also weighs-in on larger issues: Who lost the war? When was the war lost? Was losing the war inevitable? Who really won? What role did the U.S. presidential elections--and the press--play in the war’s outcome? And so on. . . But Hastings also wants to take a moral accounting of the war, both of individuals and the countries involved. Who had the courage to admit or tell the truth? (mostly soldiers and some press). Who lied to themselves and others? (mostly politicians and war planners) Who hid the truth? (North Vietnam’s leaders). And who hid from the truth? (South Vietnam’s leaders and a large number of its people). My draft number was 97. The war ended (for America) before I could be called up. (I probably would have gotten a college deferment.) I went to a few anti-war rallies in my hometown. And I had some interesting conversations with Vietnam vets about things like fragging and bombing missions in the North. Personally, I was glad to have escaped the whole thing. But this book makes me realize that almost everyone back then--hawks and doves, political and military leaders and citizens, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese--bears some level of responsibility for what happened “over there.” I came away from reading this book feeling like I was covered in gore and guilt. Hastings would call that a good place to begin. But what about Iraq and Afghanistan? Has our country learned nothing? This epic book will help you answer these and other questions.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Harry Rothmann

    Max Hastings, a noted British Journalist of military affairs who covered the Vietnam War during the LBJ years and is a New York Times best-selling Author, has written a new book on that war. True to its title, his history portrays Vietnam as a “tragedy.” Hastings narrative of over 700 pages further depicts this tragedy as truly ‘epic’ - mainly from the view of and its impact on the Vietnamese people. Indeed, from the start, it is clear that author’s intent is to convey “something of the enormity Max Hastings, a noted British Journalist of military affairs who covered the Vietnam War during the LBJ years and is a New York Times best-selling Author, has written a new book on that war. True to its title, his history portrays Vietnam as a “tragedy.” Hastings narrative of over 700 pages further depicts this tragedy as truly ‘epic’ - mainly from the view of and its impact on the Vietnamese people. Indeed, from the start, it is clear that author’s intent is to convey “something of the enormity of the experience that the Vietnamese people endured over three generations, from the consequences of which they remain unliberated to this day.” To make his point to those who see the war from an American prism, he reminds his readers that “this was predominantly an Asian tragedy, upon which a US nightmare was overlaid [and in which] around forty Vietnamese perished for every American.” In focusing on the war as largely a Vietnamese tragedy, Hastings’ book does much to fill a void in some notable histories of the war. For example, several popular histories such as Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest,” Sheehan’s “A Bright Shining Lie,” and Karnow’s “Vietnam: A History”focus primarily on the US actors and actions; and do not cover in much depth the role of the Vietnamese played in the conflict - other than South Vietnam and its Army was corrupt and inefficient, and North Vietnam, its Army and supporting southerners, determined and driven. Now we have a history that rightfully pays much more attention, especially as seen from the years 1945 to 1975, to what the conflict meant to the Vietnamese as a whole, to include its leaders, soldiers, and people - both in the North and South. In doing so, Hastings’ book also does a service in dispelling several popular and orthodox lingering myths about the conflict. For example, using more extensive and broader interviews than the Ken Burns TV series, he shows that the North Vietnamese did not hold a monopoly over the nationalist aspirations of the Vietnamese people. Rather, he demonstrates that many in the south had similar aspirations; and they fought equally as hard and bravely for their vision of a Vietnam state free from the yoke and what would turn out to be the horrors of communism. The great tragedy for those Southern Vietnamese, Hastings argues, is that their leaders were too focused on themselves, rather than resolving national issues; and in the end were sold out for political expediency by their US supporters. Other myths the author dispels is that the war was initially fought primarily over Southern Vietnamese domestic discontent of an illegally formed political entity that did not represent or honor the heritage of the Vietnamese people; and begun and mainly fought by Southern communist nationalists supported by their Northern brethren. While he holds no punches in criticizing the corruptness and ineptitude of the various Southern Vietnamese governments and their senior military officials, he convincingly shows that the Northern Communist leaders and its Army dominated both the nature and conduct of the war; that Northern leaders, to include Ho Chi Minh, ruthlessly imposed at great human costs their views of what the future of the Vietnamese peoples must be; and that, in the end, the North betrayed the aspirations of its Southern communists. In focusing this history on the struggle and plight of the Vietnamese, Mr. Hastings sometimes relegates or neglects certain important aspects the role and nature of the American involvement. The result is a lack of balance in his observations and conclusions on the relationships between the US conduct of the war with the South Vietnamese civil and military aspects. Thus, the author buys in to the common, but misrepresented, view that the US military neglected the importance of civil affairs and security and focused too much on the shooting war. Moreover, the authors predominate focus on what was indeed an epic tragedy to the Vietnamese people, often leads to a scant, brief, and underrepresented explanation of important decisions and mistakes of US civilian and military leaders that often affecting the Vietnamese, as well as how the war also was a tragedy for Americans. Nevertheless, Mr. Hastings’ book is an important contribution to an understanding of the Vietnam War. It corrects many past and current misperceptions, and brings to focus the plight, cost, and present situation of the Vietnamese people. This is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand the immense tragedy of the war, not just from the American perspective.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Lennek

    I won this book on Goodreads. I was awarded a finished copy. This book can make you cry. Author Max Hastings presents a pretty balanced view of what happened in the formulation of Vietnam over 30 years of conflict. Political decisions at the highest level are covered as are individual stories of those at the lowest level. There was plenty of blame to spread around. The French attempting to resume rule of their Cochin-China Colony after the Japanese defeat. The implacable communist revolutionarie I won this book on Goodreads. I was awarded a finished copy. This book can make you cry. Author Max Hastings presents a pretty balanced view of what happened in the formulation of Vietnam over 30 years of conflict. Political decisions at the highest level are covered as are individual stories of those at the lowest level. There was plenty of blame to spread around. The French attempting to resume rule of their Cochin-China Colony after the Japanese defeat. The implacable communist revolutionaries led first by Ho Chi Minh and later Le Duan whose endgame was to win, no matter what the cost to the people. The plucked from the air South Vietnamese leaders who were reviled by the people of the South. The American political and military leaders who could not recognize the South Vietnamese leaders they supported had no political backing from the people they "lead." The journalists who were complicit by telling a one-sided story, never bothering to write about the mass murders committed by the Viet Cong (tools of the North) or North Vietnamese Army during the TET Offensive of 1968 or later invasions. Among the interesting facts: the Russians provided anti-aircraft technicians to the North, and suffered losses from US aircraft attacks, as well as disease. The Chinese provided over 300,00 railway workers to build and maintain railroad network from China to North Vietnam. They lost thousands to malaria, 771 died and 1,675 wounded during the bombing campaign. The Paris Peace accords allowed the US to leave the South, however, it did not remove North Vietnamese enclaves in the South. Despite putting 1 million men in uniform, the South Vietnamese surrendered to the North. All ex-officers from the South were sent to reeducation camps - for three to seventeen years (even Stalin sent surviving Germans from his camps back to Germany after five years). In the end, all of the people of Vietnam lost.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    While certainly an epic undertaking to cover thirty years of fighting in Vietnam in a single volume I believe there is an overall anti-US sentiment throughout Hastings work. The Battle of Ia Drang (November 14-18, 1965) is mentioned in five brief paragraphs. Col. Hal Moore, commander of 1/7th Calvary, is not referenced in the book's index. The "Hill Fights" that took place near the combat base Khe Sanh ( 24 April - 11 May 1967) are covered in a few brief sentences, the actual Tet Offensive assau While certainly an epic undertaking to cover thirty years of fighting in Vietnam in a single volume I believe there is an overall anti-US sentiment throughout Hastings work. The Battle of Ia Drang (November 14-18, 1965) is mentioned in five brief paragraphs. Col. Hal Moore, commander of 1/7th Calvary, is not referenced in the book's index. The "Hill Fights" that took place near the combat base Khe Sanh ( 24 April - 11 May 1967) are covered in a few brief sentences, the actual Tet Offensive assault on Khe Sanh is covered in three and one-half pages. In comparison, the lesser known Battle of Daido, accurately described as an "act of sustained folly", garners its own subchapter heading "Dying" and 21 pages while an account of a successful sapper attack on Fire Base Mary Ann earns a subchapter heading under "Collateral Damage" and nine pages of text. There are other numerous instances of accounts that support my belief that Hastings overall coverage of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War is somewhat skewed and unbalanced. Having said all this, what do I know? I just read a review of this book by Jonathan Steele in The Guardian who claims the thread that runs through this book "is Hasting's effort to exonerate the US military, arguing that they had a better war than most other authors admit." Go figure. All-in-all I still rate this book highly and can only suggest you read it and form your own opinion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Miller

    A very thorough and engaging narrative of this most controversial topic. Hastings does not hesitate to make judgments about persons and policies but does so in a very even-handed way, concluding that all those involved (the French, the Americans, and the Vietnamese both North and South) made mistakes, miscalculated consequences, and were often all too willing to sacrifice lives (French, Vietnamese or American) for either political or personal gain or ideological purity. Even though it is almost A very thorough and engaging narrative of this most controversial topic. Hastings does not hesitate to make judgments about persons and policies but does so in a very even-handed way, concluding that all those involved (the French, the Americans, and the Vietnamese both North and South) made mistakes, miscalculated consequences, and were often all too willing to sacrifice lives (French, Vietnamese or American) for either political or personal gain or ideological purity. Even though it is almost 50 years since the end of the war in 1975 and Hastings does not reveal anything we didn't already know or suspect, it is still disheartening to read about the delusions of the French that they could continue to control Vietnam as a colony after WWII; the cynicism displayed by the Russian, Chinese and American power brokers in their dealings with Vietnam; the ignorance and naivete of the Americans about southeast Asia and its culture; and the deliberate lies that came from the U.S. government beginning with Eisenhower and continuing through the Ford administration. It is also still scary to be reminded that some military leaders advocated the use of nuclear weapons against the North Vietnamese. Hastings concludes that the U.S. failure was due primarily to our reliance on a military solution which, in the end, could not address the underlying political and social problems which the South Vietnamese leadership was unwilling or unable to tackle.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    This is a very readable and well constructed narrative history of the two Vietnam wars - the French and then the American ones. Max Hastings has continued his well established pattern of producing very good military historical works. The strength of this one book is (a) the very clear account of the conflicts, (b) the expert use of first-hand accounts and (c) the shrewd judgements that pepper the narrative. Max Hastings is fair in his comments about the weaknesses of the French and Americans, as This is a very readable and well constructed narrative history of the two Vietnam wars - the French and then the American ones. Max Hastings has continued his well established pattern of producing very good military historical works. The strength of this one book is (a) the very clear account of the conflicts, (b) the expert use of first-hand accounts and (c) the shrewd judgements that pepper the narrative. Max Hastings is fair in his comments about the weaknesses of the French and Americans, as well as the communists. On the last, he makes the fair point that one great advantage which the Vietminh, Vietcong and North Vietnamese had over their enemies, was the fact that the cruel and murderous nature of their conduct was not made visible, whereas that of the French, US and the South Vietnamese regimes, clearly was. This skewed the view of the war, to the advantage of the communists. Nonetheless, Hastings does not excuse the shortcomings of the anti-communist forces, and his criticisms, especially of the US, seem fair and justified. In historiographical terms, this book gives one a framework on which to study the various conflicts. It is short on detailed historical analysis, but for all that, offers a good overview of these momentous conflicts.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Flowers4Algernon

    A right of centre overview/ account which incorporates recent works such as Bowden’s excellent Hue. There are some very interesting anecdotes and stories from the participants on both sides but otherwise there is little that is new or ground breaking. Unfortunately the author’s reverence for machismo and general sexism grates as does his dismissive comments on anti war protesters who he infers were mainly draft dodgers although there may have been a few people protesting out of principle. The bo A right of centre overview/ account which incorporates recent works such as Bowden’s excellent Hue. There are some very interesting anecdotes and stories from the participants on both sides but otherwise there is little that is new or ground breaking. Unfortunately the author’s reverence for machismo and general sexism grates as does his dismissive comments on anti war protesters who he infers were mainly draft dodgers although there may have been a few people protesting out of principle. The book is mainly chronological although he does wander off on numerous occasions for example explaining in detail the differences between an AK47 and the weaponry used by the US. There is also little indication that he believes France and the US should never have been involved in Vietnam and appears dismissive of the ideals held by people who fought against France and the US. I also cannot believe that he was allowed to include three photos of Vietnamese women as examples of how beautiful Vietnamese women. Appalling.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richard Hakes

    Good solid story of Vietnam told from an involved journalist's point of view which is basically what is on the cover. History book like these benefit from being more that straightforward accounts of what happened and this lesson learned. You still benift of having a wickipeadia access with you while reading. A point that was not lost upon me is that it took the USA seven years to extract themselves from a mess they found themselves in. And now 50 years after the event the winning communist north Good solid story of Vietnam told from an involved journalist's point of view which is basically what is on the cover. History book like these benefit from being more that straightforward accounts of what happened and this lesson learned. You still benift of having a wickipeadia access with you while reading. A point that was not lost upon me is that it took the USA seven years to extract themselves from a mess they found themselves in. And now 50 years after the event the winning communist north find themselves embracing the very capitalistic values that so many people suffered and died for. A good quote from the book ‘If all you guys wanted was a McDonald’s, surely we could have worked this out a long time ago?’ attributed to David Rogers!

  28. 4 out of 5

    David C Ward

    For no particular reason I’ve read a lot of Vietnam war books in the last year. This is a good, readable, history by Hastings, the well known military historian. It’s a brisk narrative with enough human interest stories from both sides to leaven the depressing chronology of events. No one comes off well and Hastings is especially scathing about not just the delusions of American policy makers but their lying, especially to themselves and their country. It struck me that things haven’t changed mu For no particular reason I’ve read a lot of Vietnam war books in the last year. This is a good, readable, history by Hastings, the well known military historian. It’s a brisk narrative with enough human interest stories from both sides to leaven the depressing chronology of events. No one comes off well and Hastings is especially scathing about not just the delusions of American policy makers but their lying, especially to themselves and their country. It struck me that things haven’t changed much in that regard.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linnaea

    I liked that Hastings was able to both defend the idea of the Vietnam war while pointing out the mistakes that were made in what was both a civil war and a battle between superpowers. I liked that Hastings started the book with the French/IndoChina war because it gave a greater understanding on how North Vietnam came about. I found Hastings' explanation of the bombing of North Vietnam to be fascinating - maybe because he is British, but I've never read the bombing as a comparison to the Blitz.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    I graduated from High School in 1970, and the war in Vietnam was such a major and painful theme of my youth that it actually took me 48 years to read a history of that conflict. At every level, Max Hastings indeed sows it to have been a epic tragedy at every level. Well researched and enlivened by the memories of many participants on both sides, this work not only tells the history of one of the more brutal and futile wars in American history (with probably over 2 million dead.) It also shows, a I graduated from High School in 1970, and the war in Vietnam was such a major and painful theme of my youth that it actually took me 48 years to read a history of that conflict. At every level, Max Hastings indeed sows it to have been a epic tragedy at every level. Well researched and enlivened by the memories of many participants on both sides, this work not only tells the history of one of the more brutal and futile wars in American history (with probably over 2 million dead.) It also shows, as if we needed to be reminded, that going to war is a really stupid idea.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.