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Posted August 29, 2009
Book: Readable/ War: Hard to Understand
I picked up this book when I was in the middle of The Best & the Brightest by David Halberstam. I have never been a political science whiz, and I was feeling confused and not getting the references. This book by Maga is easy to read in a short time, and it really helped fill in the blanks. I lived through Vietnam but never served, and the modern history of this area was nothing but a huge mess of politicians saving face, being loyal to their President, misunderstanding where it was going, and sending more troops to their slaughter. It explains how Americans, like the French, didn't bother to understand a people and a culture, how the McCarthy era colored the sixties in terms of politicians not being able to afford to be seen as soft on Communism, and how Americans overrated their strength after WW II, even after Korea happened, and even though we were going to fight the Vietcong who were a resilient guerrilla force who did not cave in when we started bombing. If you are embarrassed like me that you didn't follow the news at that time, or if you are curious about a modern epoch that your parents lived through, this is a great place to start. All the main events and players are here, Ho Chi Minh, Dienbienphu, Diem's government in Saigon, the Presidents who didn't want to lose on their watch, Tet, the fall of Saigon, & the aftermath including Hollywood's look back. It gave me all the historical context I needed without ever trying to hide how complicated and convoluted this involvement was. Highly recommended. My first "The Complete Idiot's Guide" includes marginal facts and vocabulary and interesting mini-bios of some of the soldiers and what they experienced.
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