Much has happened to our understanding of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's Communist Party, and the war in the thirty-six years that elapsed between the first publication and this new edition. This is an interesting read to catch the flavor of the 1960s.
A fine and vividly-drawn sketch of Ho Chi Minh's life-long struggle for Vietnamese independence through political mobilization, diplomacy, and warfare. Anyone who wonders why the French and the American armed forces with their overwhelming military superiority could not defeat the Vietnamese resistance should read this book.
David Halberstam (1934–2007) was the author of 20 books, the last 14 of which have been national best-sellers. His most recent book, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, is about the Chinese entry into the Korean War. He was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in Vietnam and was a member of the elective Society of American Historians.
A journalist, historian, and biographer, David Halberstam brought his idiosyncratic and stylistic approach to heavy subjects: the Vietnam War (in 1972's The Best and the Brightest); the shaping of American politics (in 1979's The Powers That Be); the American economy's relationship with the automobile industry (in 1986's The Reckoning); and the civil rights movement (in 1998's Freedom Riders).
His books were loaded with anecdotes, metaphors, suspense, and a narrative tone most writers reserve for fiction. The resulting books -- many of them huge bestsellers -- gave Halberstam heavyweight status (he won the Pulitzer for international reporting in 1964) and established him as an important commentator on American politics and power.
Halberstam was also known for his sports books. In The Breaks of the Game, which a critic for The New York Times called "one of the best books I've ever read about American sports," he took on professional basketball.
In The Amateurs, he examined the world of sculling; in Summer of '49 and October 1964, he focused on two pivotal baseball events: the Boston Red Sox's exasperating near victory over the New York Yankees for the 1949 pennant, and the 1964 season, when the Yankees lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1999's Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made, Halberstam documented the making of a legend.
Always happy to extend his reach well beyond the subject at hand, Halberstam packed his books with social commentary as well as sports detail.
His writing routine was as strenuous and disciplined as that of any of the athletes he wrote about. To sustain his steady output of extensively researched, almost-always-massive books, he allows no unscheduled interruptions: "Most of us who have survived here [New York] after a number of years have ironclad work rules. Nothing interrupts us. Nothing," he once wrote in The New York Times. "We surface only at certain hours of the day."
Good To Know
David Halberstam's first job was as a reporter for a small-town Mississippi newspaper.
The Colonial Legacy of the French 3
Peasant, Dishwasher, Socialist, Communist 1890-1917 12
From Belief to Profession: Ho's Path to Communism 1917-1940 36
Creating a Nationalist Movement 1941-1945 62
Path to Dienbienphu: The Tiger Defeats the Elephant 1945-1954 79
The Americans Arrive: The Second Indochina War 1955-1969 105
About the Author 120