The United States could have won the war in Vietnam if only President Lyndon Johnson had let his air generals do what they wanted...if only we had intervened massively...if only we had pursued our campaign against the Viet Cong infrastructure. These propositions and others, advanced by apologists for the American defeat in Vietnam (many of them the very generals and officials responsible for prosecuting the war), are fast becoming conventional wisdom. In The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, John Prados meets ...
The United States could have won the war in Vietnam if only President Lyndon Johnson had let his air generals do what they wanted...if only we had intervened massively...if only we had pursued our campaign against the Viet Cong infrastructure. These propositions and others, advanced by apologists for the American defeat in Vietnam (many of them the very generals and officials responsible for prosecuting the war), are fast becoming conventional wisdom. In The Hidden History of the Vietnam War, John Prados meets them head on. His straightforward narrative does not aim to be a comprehensive history; instead he focuses on key strategies, events, and personalities in the struggle. Mr. Prados's book draws from a broad range of evidence, including archival documents and official military government reports. By avoiding the atomized individual accounts that have characterized much of the nonfiction on Vietnam, and selecting crucial issues and battle actions, he succeeds in illuminating the high points of the Vietnam experience and puncturing the popular mythologies of the war.
Perceptive...Prados probes deeply and with knowledgeable insights into the war.
Lloyd C. Gardner
Like sudden shafts of light, these well-aimed essays illuminate all areas of the hidden history of the war...thoroughly exciting and complex.
The Hidden History of the Vietnam War is a model of lucid writing and fair judgment which tells us things we need to know.
- Publisher's Weekly
Prados (The Presidents' Secret Wars) offers a rare fresh look at the war in Southeast Asia. Instead of trying to cover it chronologically from start to finish, he has illuminated the ``high'' points and dilated on issues moving into eclipse. He brings into focus Lyndon Johnson's role in the 1954 Dien Bien Phu crisis, when LBJ was Senate minority leader; defines the political characteristics of the South Vietnamese Army; describes how the Buddhist Struggle Movement hindered that army's anticommunist efforts; defines U.S. intentions in the air war to a degree not seen previously; and explains President Nixon's controversial order to mine Haiphong Harbor in 1972. Of lesser significance but equally interesting, Prados considers such matters as the Viet Cong's radio-intelligence efforts, which, as he shows, were thoroughly professional. About the infamous U.S./government of South Vietnam Phoenix Program, which targeted the Viet Cong leadership but often rounded up and indiscriminately killed ordinary Vietnamese citizens, he writes, ``The antiwar protestors were right that Phoenix constituted a massive civil rights violation on a national scale.'' Turning to the tumultuous home front, Prados skillfully analyzes the Nixon administration's efforts to discredit American veterans' groups that opposed the war. (May)
The author of seven books, including two on Vietnam (Valley of Decision, LJ 11/1/91, and The Sky Would Fall, LJ 6/1/83), Prados has written a treatise of sorts that might have been called "How Not To Wage a War 101." Most of the information he presents has been told before, but he manages to assess the political and religious discords of the South Vietnamese military with a new and firm voice. The villains are, among others, Presidents Johnson and Nixon, other incompetent but powerful officials, and many unprepared but enthusiastic generals. The saddest part is Nixon's insistence on fighting American veteran organizations that opposed the war. This book is well researched but not exactly original; some readers may be hesitant to read yet again about America in defeat. For specialized collections.-Ralph DeLucia, Willoughby Wallace Lib., Branford, Ct.
The author questions the conventional "lessons" drawn from the Vietnam War, focusing on specific strategies and decisions which led up to and were used during the war, and evaluating both familiar and previously unevaluated incidents and policies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
John Prados is a leading historian of national security affairs, intelligence operations, and international security concerns. His other books include Presidents' Secret Wars, Combined Fleet Decoded, Valley of Decision, and Keepers of the Keys. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.