The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War / Edition 1

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Overview

More than a quarter of a century after the last Marine Corps Huey left the American embassy in Saigon, the lessons and legacies of the most divisive war in twentieth-century American history are as hotly debated as ever. Why did successive administrations choose little-known Vietnam as the "test case" of American commitment in the fight against communism? Why were the "best and brightest" apparently blind to the illegitimacy of the state of South Vietnam? Would Kennedy have pulled out had he lived? And what lessons regarding American foreign policy emerged from the war?

The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War helps readers understand this tragic and complex conflict. The book contains both interpretive information and a wealth of facts in easy-to-find form. Part I provides a lucid narrative overview of contested issues and interpretations in Vietnam scholarship. Part II is a mini-encyclopedia with descriptions and analysis of individuals, events, groups, and military operations. Arranged alphabetically, this section enables readers to look up isolated facts and specialized terms. Part III is a chronology of key events. Part IV is an annotated guide to resources, including films, documentaries, CD-ROMs, and reliable Web sites. Part V contains excerpts from historical documents and statistical data.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Successfully compresses the copiously documented, labyrinthine history of the Vietnamese conflict into a single economical volume... a fascinating survey of the war... expertly crafted... strongly recommended.
International History Review - Mark Bradley
A well-organized, succinct, and welcome work of synthesis that brings together the main lines of historical controversy in particularly engaging ways... clearly the best short introduction available to the scholarship on the wars in Vietnam and deserves a wide and appreciative audience.
American Studies International - Matthew Stewart
This volume is practical, useful and trustworthy, and will become indispensable for many teachers and scholars, whether they approach the war from a traditional historical, a sociological, a cultural studies, or an interdisciplinary framework.
Journal of Conflict Studies - Andrew L. Johns
The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War is an outstanding primer to the conflict and the scholarship it has inspired.
Booklist
[A]n outstanding ready-reference source.... [Anderson] should be commended for compiling such an informative, balanced, and unbiased reference source for the most contentious war in American history.
Choice

Successfully compresses the copiously documented, labyrinthine history of the Vietnamese conflict into a single economical volume... a fascinating survey of the war... expertly crafted... strongly recommended.

International History Review
A well-organized, succinct, and welcome work of synthesis that brings together the main lines of historical controversy in particularly engaging ways... clearly the best short introduction available to the scholarship on the wars in Vietnam and deserves a wide and appreciative audience.

— Mark Bradley

American Studies International
This volume is practical, useful and trustworthy, and will become indispensable for many teachers and scholars, whether they approach the war from a traditional historical, a sociological, a cultural studies, or an interdisciplinary framework.

— Matthew Stewart

American Reference Books Annual
Anderson expertly reviews the considerable accumulated opinion on the Vietnam War... highly recommended.
Journal of Conflict Studies
The Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War is an outstanding primer to the conflict and the scholarship it has inspired.

— Andrew L. Johns

Publishers Weekly
University of Indianapolis history professor David L. Anderson (Facing My Lai) combines three different formats in his concise Columbia Guide to the Vietnam War: a historical summary of the conflict from French occupation through North Vietnam's victory, organized around key controversial questions ("Was Johnson a War Hawk or a Reluctant Warrior?"); an A-Z mini-encyclopedia of all things Vietnam War; and an extensive list of resources and documents, plus a detailed chronology that runs from 207 B.C. ("Kingdom of Nam Viet founded") through Clinton's extension of diplomatic recognition to socialist Vietnam in 1995. (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A highly regarded Vietnam War scholar, Anderson (Facing My Lai; Trapped by Success: The Eisenhower Administration and Vietnam, 1953-1961) offers a thorough overview that will benefit students and scholars seeking resources about all aspects of the war and Vietnamese history. The guide consists of five parts, most notably Anderson's summary of the war, in which he posits many questions but, to his credit, does not present his conclusions as definitive answers. He concludes that the war resulted from a misapplication of American containment policies, but he cautions the researcher to investigate all conservative, liberal, and revisionist interpretations of the war's origin and ending. The overview is followed by a detailed glossary. The final three sections are a chronology; an extensive, briefly annotated bibliography, which includes print and electronic resources; and a selection of primary documents that includes decrees from Vietnamese and American officials, concluding with President Clinton's 1995 speech that declared normalized relations with Vietnam. This guide is not as strong as its companion, The Columbia Guide to America in the 1960s, because it lacks a section of shorter essays by noted contributors. But it is a fine resource for understanding the war and all its complexities. Recommended for academic and most public libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

David L. Anderson is professor of history and interim dean of arts and sciences at the University of Indianapolis. He is the author of Facing My Lai: Moving Beyond the Massacre and Trapped by Success: The Eisenhower Administration and Vietnam, 1953—1961.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Part I: Historical Narrative 1. Studying the Vietnam War2. Vietnam: Historical BackgroundRoots of the Vietnamese Culture and StateThe Impact of French ColonialismThe Rise of Vietnamese NationalismThe Origins of Vietnamese Communism3. United States: Historical BackgroundIdealism and Realism in U.S. Foreign RelationsThe United States and the Open Door in AsiaThe World Wars: The Legacies of Wilson and MunichThe Origins of the Cold War4. The French War in VietnamThe August RevolutionOutbreak of the Franco-Vietminh WarU.S. Support of FranceDienbienphu and the Geneva Conference5. The Diem Years: EisenhowerThe Decision to Back Ngo Dinh DiemThe Non-election of 1956The Illusion of Nation BuildingNLF: Rise of the Southern Insurgency6. The Diem Years: KennedyCounterinsurgency WarfareThe Buddhist CrisisThe Diem AssassinationWhat if Kennedy Had Lived? 7. The American War in Vietnam: EscalationThe Gulf of Tonkin IncidentRolling ThunderJohnson Decides on a Land War in AsiaTheories of Causation8. The American War in Vietnam: StrategyThe DrafAttrition Strategy and Body CountHumpin' It: The American SoldierThe Air WarDiplomacyThe Resilient Enemy9. The American War in Vietnam: The Limits of PowerThe Tet offensiveThe Antiwar Movement and the MediaJohnson's Decision to Stop EscalationThe Presidential Election of 196810. The American War in Vietnam: De-escalationVietnamization and More BombingCambodia and Kent StateNegotiations and the Paris Peace AccordsDRV Victory in 197511. The War What Will Not Go AwayThe Postwar Wars in Southeast AsiaAmerican Vietnam VeteransFilms, Fiction, and PoetryPostmortemsPart II: The Vietnam War from A to Z Part III: Chronology Part IV: Resource Guide

Columbia University Press

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