The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Vietnam War

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If you are too young to remember the Vietnam War, this book will give you a comprehensive view of the thirty-year conflict, a more complete story than you might get in your history textbook. It will satisfy the curiosity of those who want to know more about the history and culture of the United States during the sixites and seventies, and it will give older readers an unbiased reminder of their youth.
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If you are too young to remember the Vietnam War, this book will give you a comprehensive view of the thirty-year conflict, a more complete story than you might get in your history textbook. It will satisfy the curiosity of those who want to know more about the history and culture of the United States during the sixites and seventies, and it will give older readers an unbiased reminder of their youth.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028639499
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 10/13/2000
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy P. Maga Ph.D. has been in the education field for many years, including three tours with the University of Maryland's military education program headquartered at Yokota Air Base in Japan. He currently lives in the United States, working for an education, technology, and training firm contracted to the U.S. Air Force.

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Table of Contents


1. Discovering Vietnam.

Why Vietnam? Saigon Is Not a Detroit Suburb. A Short History of French Rule.

The First Cold War. Parlez-vous Français?

Vietnam for the Vietnamese. Just Shoot.

2. Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.

A George Washington for Vietnam.

The Influence of Phan Boi Chau. A Legend Begins.

Nationalism, Communism, Opportunism.

The Real Ho Chi Minh. Ho and Lenin. The RYL.

Ho's Hong Kong Honeymoon and Hoover's Depression.

The Hong Kong Platform. The American Home Front. The Arrest of a Radical.

Franklin Roosevelt—A Ho Chi Minh for America? As the World Turns.

3. Uncle Ho Meets Uncle Sam.

Ho Gets Charisma. Let's Dance! Ho Chi Minh and Franklin Roosevelt. The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship? Free Vietnam!

Eleanor Does Vietnam? Ho Meets Harry.

4. Thirty Years War, Act One.

Harry, Goofy, and Dewey.

Truman and Chiang. Report from Vietnam.

Gone with the Wind and Brother Charles. France Fights the Last War.

The French Offensive. An Appeal to America.

5. Destiny at Dienbienphu.

Why Dominoes Are Scary.

Ferreting Out the Red Menace. Un-American Affairs.

“The Forgotten War” Not Forgotten. Foolish Frenchmen. Dienbienphu.

France Folds. This Is the End.


6. Thirty Years War, Act Two.

The Bao Dai Boogie.

The Geneva Conference. Enter Bao Dai. The Violence Continues.

Our Man Diem. Lightning Joe and Colonel. A New, Sexy Profile.

7. Kings of Corruption.

Don't You Trust Them Commies! All in the Family.

The Can Lao. The New South Vietnam. Ho the Terrorist. SEATO.

Why Americans Are “Ugly”.

The Quiet American. The Good America.

Where Are Ye, Ho?

8. The Military-Industrial Complex.

Won't You Play with Me? Getting It Together in South Vietnam.

Spontaneous Uprisings. NLF Reforms.

Laos and Vietnam.

Phouma, Phoui, and Phoumi. The Commies Creep Closer.

A Statesman to the Rescue?

9. Enter the New Frontier.

Can't You See That Big Red “S” Under My Shirt?

Kennedy's Presidential Bid. Kennedy's Can-Do Team.

Getting the Job Done. Where Is “Layous?”. Who Will Rid Me of This Troublesome Man?

Diem's Weaknesses. Losing Diem.

10. The American Lake.

Johnson's Inheritance. So You Want to Be a Millionaire?

Dollars and Sense. The New Pacific Community.

Please Speak Japanese, If You Please.

Brother Bobby and Vietnam. Brother Teddy and Vietnam.

The Copy Machine Breaks Down.

11. The Other Vietnam?

Down with Sukarno.

Sukarno and the Dutch. “Guided Democracy”. The West Irian Problem.

American Charisma Meets Indonesian Charisma.

Stumbling Blocks to Peace. The Pope Case.

Vietnam War or Indonesia War? A War in Vietnam Is Good Enough for Me.


12. Holding the Beachhead.

Legend Sounds Better Than Fact.

Myths and Reality. Complexity and Contradiction.

Ho Gets Ready. America Tries to Get Ready.

Murmurs in the Pacific. Johnson Visits the Pacific.

Vacation in Vietnam. War Can Ruin a Good Night's Sleep.

13. All the Way with LBJ.

America Goes to the Dogs? LBJ, Texas Populist.

Texas Politics. Johnson's Rising Star.

Beating Kennedys.

The Wicked Truth. Throwing Out the Leftovers.

Westmoreland to the Rescue. ARVN on the Ropes. Uncle Lyndon, Your Good Buddy.

14. Thirty Years War, Act Three.

World War II Commitment? Controversy in the Tonkin Gulf.

The “Facts”. Stepping Carefully.

The Tonkin Gulf Resolution.

“Grandma's Nightshirt”. The Two Dissenters.

Mr. Right Meets Landslide Lyndon.

15. Death in Pleiku.

Big Minh and the Wrath of Khanh. A Doubting Nelson. Terror at the Brinks Hotel. Pleiku, My Old Country Home.

Pleiku Is Vietnamese for Alamo. The White House Strikes Back. Springtime in Vietnam.

16. March to Victory?

Guns and Butter. The Early Opposition Speaks. Westmoreland Asks for More.

High Tech vs. Low Tech. Who Should We Bomb Today?

What's Happened to the Bad Guys?

17. The Young Turks and the Search for Victory.

Ky Is the Key? “Many Flags”.

Like a ROK. What Are Friends For?

Victory Under the Palms.

The Dominican Republic Invasion. A Hint of Things to Come?


18. Question Authority.

Those Good Old Days. As American as Apple Pie.

Tom Hayden. Of Weathermen and Hippies.

Fulbright vs. Johnson. Endless War.

19. The Art of Lying.

Hubert's “Great Adventure”. The Government Has Two Faces.

Westmoreland on Capitol Hill. A National Election.

Winning and Losing at the Same Time.

“On the Run”. Seesaw Campaigns.

Victory Nears?

20. The Tet Offensive.

The Big “Showdown”. America Is Surprised.

The Horror Show. Turning Points.

Landslide Lyndon Retires.

21. The Battling Democrats and Campaign '68.

Getting “Clean for Gene”.

The Rise of McCarthy. New Hampshire Speaks. Rough Road Ahead.

What About George? Good Bobby, Evil Hubert, and a November Defeat.

22. Thirty Years War, the Final Act.

You Can Trust “Tricky Dicky”. Henry the K. and Vietnamization.

Henry Kissinger. Vietnamization. The Protestors vs. the Great Silent Majority.

“Vietnamization” in Action.

Hamburger Hill. Publicizing Vietnamization.

A Legend Is Born.

23. Cambodia.

Things Keep Falling Apart.

Spiro Agnew. The My Lai Debate.

Flash Dance in Cambodia.

“Patton” Blunders. The Kent State Tragedy.

A Warning Shot from Congress.

24. Watergate.

Laos and the Uneasy Calm. Daniel Ellsberg Feels Your Pain. I'm the President, and You're Not. From Quang Tri to Watergate.

McGovern. “Tricky Dicky” Takes a Hike.


25. Coming Home.

Let's Go to China. Let's Go to Paris.

Christmas Bombs Bring a New Year's Peace. The “Decent Interval” Begins.

A Ford, Not a Lincoln.

26. The Fall of Saigon.

Final Days.

Chaos Rules. Thieu's Suspicions.

You Storm, I'll Drizzle.

The War Powers Act. Bad Days for Henry.

Don't Forget the Flag.

27. Hollywood Goes to Vietnam.

The Taboo Topic. Trailblazing Movies and TV. A Few Good Superheroes.

Magnum, P.I.. Norris and Stallone.

Francis and Oliver Go to Vietnam.

28. The Road to Normalization.

What Vietnam?

Jimmy Carter Looks for a Policy. Ronald Reagan Sees an “Evil Empire”. Bill Clinton Wants to Build an Embassy.

Welcome Back to Vietnam.

Pete Peterson, POW. Future Tense.


Appendix A. Casualty Figures for the Vietnam War.

Appendix B. Jarhead Jargon Glossary.

Appendix C. Recommended Reading.


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Customer Reviews

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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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2003

    This Confirms That Publish or Perish Lives In Academia

    I have read widely on the Vietnam War, and have also gathered some familiarity with the Dummies computer books. I was curious as to how the author would extract key data about the Vietnam War and display it in such a - user friendly - format. The answer was -- He didn't. The material that he placed in the book is general in nature, easily verifiable, and widely available. There is virtually nothing unique about his selections. At the same time, the presentation is pitifully inept at best. His attempts to format it similar to the Dummies books that most people have a familiarity with do not come off well. Additionally, his description of the soldiers, seamen, airmen, and Marines who fought there in the front of the book demonstrates that, in his case at least, he hasn't a clue about the key element of his subject material. Here in the west this type of subtle denigration of our military doesn't play well. That aside, this is a thoroughly useless book that appears to have been written just so he could have something in print.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2001

    The Title is Partly Right: It IS an 'Idiot's' Guide

    I bought this book because it appeared to have a number of 'Facts' in it and I am something of a collector of military trivia. The book does have a number of short factual vignettes in it that the author seems to believe serve to explain the complexities of the Vietnam War. Actually all they really do is serve to confirm that it doesn't take much to get into print anymore. Perhaps my problem was that he turned me off right at the front of the book with his characterization of the people who actually fought in the war. I, and many like me, am tired of the trite garbage that pseudo-intellectuals try to pass off as to what we were like and for me this gratuitous stereotyping at the front of the volume colored how I read the rest. Even having said that, however, the book really was pretty bad. The 'facts' that it contained were less than illuminating and about the best that can be said about it is that it didn't take a great deal of effort to read it. People looking for information should look elsewhere.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2000

    Who's the REAL Idiot here?

    I purchased my copy of 'The Complete Idiot's Guide to The Vietnam War' this week. Most of the content is verifiable and true, and can be obtained from numerous resources, like the online Vietnam War Declassification Project, released in April, 2000. My problem with this book is the 'Dear Reader' part of the inner cover, where the author, Timothy Maga, attempts to explain what the book is about. His opening paragraph begins with these questions: 'The United States lost the Vietnam War. So why read a book about a bunch of losers?' Excuse me? All of us sandbagging, dope heads, too soft to fight types? To quote a TRUE hero, Former Secretary of the Navy, James Webb, writes 'Dropped onto the enemey's terrain 12,000 miles away from home, America's citizen-soldiers performed with a tenacity and quality that may never be truly understood. Those who believe the war was fought incompently on a tactical level should consider Hanoi's recent admission that 1.4 million of its soldiers died on the battlefield, compared to 58,000 total US dead. Those who believe that it was a 'dirty little war' where the bombs did all the work might contemplate that it was the most costly war the US Marine Corps has ever fought--five times as many dead in WW1, three times as many dead as in Korea, and more total killed and wounded than in all of WW2.' Sorry, Dr. Maga. I'm NOT a loser. I chose to participate, not observe, in the most pivotable event in my generation, and I'm not talking about Woodstock or landing on the moon. My Dad is a WW2 veteran who fought in the Pacific. To this day he is my best friend and confidant, and he is MY hero. In closing, let the buyer beware. Of all the 'Idiot' books I've read, this one is at the bottom. If you need to write a paper about Vietnam, wait for the Cliff Notes. Otherwise, you can do better with the bi-monthly magazine VIETNAM, founded by the late Col. Harry G. Summers, Jr., or Frank Snepp's once banned-by-the-CIA book, DECENT INTERVAL.

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