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The Eleven Days of Christmas: America's Last Vietnam Battle

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Overview

In December 1972, with an increasingly dovish Congress preparing to cut off all funding for the war in Vietnam, President Richard Nixon ordered the bombing of Hanoi by the Strategic Air Command's "big stick," its fleet of B-52 bombers. Never before had a B-52 been lost in combat, but the North Vietnamese SAM missile crews knocked them out of the sky in the first days of the engagement. Despite the losses, the surviving bombers kept coming, inflicting huge losses on the North Vietnamese. For eleven days the ...
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Overview

In December 1972, with an increasingly dovish Congress preparing to cut off all funding for the war in Vietnam, President Richard Nixon ordered the bombing of Hanoi by the Strategic Air Command's "big stick," its fleet of B-52 bombers. Never before had a B-52 been lost in combat, but the North Vietnamese SAM missile crews knocked them out of the sky in the first days of the engagement. Despite the losses, the surviving bombers kept coming, inflicting huge losses on the North Vietnamese. For eleven days the momentum swung back and forth, moving from what appeared to be a certain U.S. triumph, to a possible North Vietnamese victory, to the ultimate ambiguous denouement in which both sides won and lost.

In telling the story of America's last great air battle, Marshall Michel has used hundreds of formerly classified documents from U.S. government archives and traveled to Hanoi to examine records there. He also interviewed dozens of Americans and Vietnamese who participated in the battle at all levels, allowing him to take the reader into meetings at the White House and SAC Headquarters, and into the B-52 cockpits, the Vietnamese missile sites and the POW camps of Hanoi. The Eleven Days of Christmas is military history at its best-a gripping tale of heroism and incompetence in an epic air engagement whose political and military legacy is still a matter of debate.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The American B-52 bombing campaign (popularly known as the "Chrismas Bombing") of 1972 remains one of the most debated topics of this highly controversial conflict. Begun by Richard Nixon over the protest of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command, the bombing was opposed by a large majority of Congress and by the antiwar movement. Despite unforseen losses, the B-52 bombing was instrumental in forcing the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table. While emotional and ill-informed opinions from both Left and Right dominate discussions of American air strategy in Vietnam, Michel (a retired F-4 pilot and author of Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam, 1965-72) offers a cogent and superbly researched scholarly examination that is remarkably free of bias. Drawing from both Vietnamese and American primary and secondary sources, Michel has also utilized a substantial number of dramatic first-person accounts of participants from both sides. His day-by-day analysis of the strategy and tactics of the U.S. bomber squadrons and their North Vietnamese opponents will capture and hold the attention of readers. The author's critique of U.S. Air Force leadership is certain to attract the notice of scholars. A first-rate contribution; essential for academic collections. John R. Vallely, Siena Coll. Lib., Loudonville, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893554276
  • Publisher: Encounter Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 325
  • Sales rank: 329,768
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Prologue: Peace Is Our Profession 1
1 War Is Our Hobby 11
2 Getting Serious 21
3 "Attacks must be brutal ..." 41
4 "Maximum effort, repeat, maximum effort ..." 53
5 "Downtown, where all the lights are bright ..." 71
6 The Night of the Fan Songs 86
7 The Second Day 123
8 The Slaughter of the Gs 139
9 Dien Bien Phu of the Air 164
10 Holding On 181
11 The Eighth Night 193
12 The Last Nights of Christmas 204
13 Denouement 217
14 Retrospective 232
App. 1: Analysis 239
App. 2 Linebacker II "Urban Legends" 243
App. 3 Number of SAMs Fired 248
App. 4 Key Organizations and Personnel for Linebacker III 250
Glossary 253
Acknowledgments 259
Reference Notes 260
Bibliographical Note 290
Partial Bibliography 299
Index 314
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2003

    Christmas Thirty Yeas Ago

    If you find that the Vietnam War is settling back into increasingly dusty history, you should read Marshall Michel's "The Eleven Days of Christmas." It will catapult you back to Christmas thirty years ago putting you in wave after wave, night after night of America's final battle in Vietnam, the all out air assault on Hanoi by B52s. Michel's knowledge, experience, relentless research and extensive interviews provide insightful views into the White House, Congress, SAC headquarters in Omaha, B52 cockpits, support ground crews, North Vietnamese missle crews, American bases in Laos and Guam, and distressed families waiting. Eleven Days is particularly timely as we hear the drum beat in the Middle East. It brings home loud and clear that wars are fought by flesh and blood, not just machines, and in war's humanity is found extraordinary courage and devotion to duty as well as tragic arrogance and incompetence.

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