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Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam
     

Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam

5.0 2
by Thomas P. McKenna
 

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In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of

Overview

In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated.

Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement. McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself.

Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna's book is not only an essential historical resource for America's most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McKenna, in his first book, presents a well-researched, heavily detailed look at the 1972 North Vietnamese Army invasion of South Vietnam—the so-called Easter Offensive designed to topple the South Vietnamese government and end the war. The massive, three-pronged attack, aided by Soviet and Chinese weaponry, came as the United States was rapidly withdrawing its combat troops under Nixon's "Vietnamization" plan. But tens of thousands of American troops, including advisers to the South Vietnamese Army such as McKenna, remained, and Nixon unleashed American airpower, including massive, sustained B-52 bombing operations. That onslaught overcame a less-than-stellar performance by the South Vietnamese Army, although one ARVN division stood up well. The successful defense of Kontum (and South Vietnam) was led by the legendary John Paul Vann, working for the U.S. Foreign Service. McKenna served under Vann, the subject of Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie, and offers an illuminating picture of the colorful, contradictory ex-military man in action. McKenna, severely wounded near the end of the offensive, switches from the first person to the third and includes excessive military minutiae, but does an effective job of melding his own story with the bigger picture. 29 photos; 6 maps. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Tom McKenna is a 'soldier's soldier.' His reputation for integrity, courage and professional know how is known throughout the Army. His peacetime as well as wartime service marked him as one of the infantry's most remarkable leaders, the kind admired by not only his subordinates but also his peers and superior officers. This book reflects his professional acumen and contributions to freedom." — Major General Guy S. Meloy, USA (Ret.), former commanding general, 82nd Airborne Division

"Winner of the William E. Colby Award" —

"A gripping combat narrative. McKenna does an excellent job of combining his personal experiences and observations with the extensive information he has drawn from official records, contemporary press reports, and published works." — David T. Zabecki, editor emeritus, Vietnam Magazine

"A superbly written and researched account of the 1972 NVA Easter Offensive and the heroism and professionalism of the unsung heroes of the Vietnam War, the advisor teams. If you are interested in understanding why the Vietnam War ended as it did, read this book." — Major General Neal Creighton, USA (Ret.), former Commanding General of 1st Infantry Division

"McKenna sweeps away the fog of war in his detailed history of the Battle of Kontum. He expertly blends his personal experience as a military adviser to the victorious 23rd South Vietnamese Division with years of painstaking research in this significant account of one of the final battles of the Vietnam War." — Edward Richards, Emeritus Professor of English and Military Literature, Norwich University, CDR, USNR (Ret.)

"Accurately describes the important contribution of the U.S. Air Force in winning the Battle of Kontum. B-52 bombers, fighter-bombers, and gunships supported the advisors and the troops in Kontum while C-130 airlifts delivered vital supplies to the beleaguered city." — Major General James C. Pfautz, USAF (Ret.)

"Although the Easter Offensive was the biggest battle of the Vietnam War, it has been neglected by historians. McKenna helps fill the gap with his account of the battle for Kontum in the Central Highlands. His perspective as a participant in the fighting there makes this an interesting and valuable addition to the historiography." — Dale Andradé, author of America's Last Vietnam Battle: Halting Hanoi's 1972 Easter Offensive

"Offers an illuminating picture of the colorful, contradictory ex-military man in action. McKenna... does an effective job of melding his own story with the bigger picture." — Publishers Weekly

"McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself." — Siagon Arts, Culture, & Education Institute Newsletter

"Thomas McKenna's fine work is an important addition to our knowledge of advisors, and those they advised, during a critical period of the war.

[...] The result is a well documented and juicy account that is both informative and exciting.

[...] [A] valuable addition to the chronicles of a complex war." — Journal of Military History

" Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna's book is not only an essential historical resource for America's most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival." — West Point Grad News

"McKenna was a lieutenant colonel serving in South Vietnam as an adviser to the 23rd Army of the Republic of Vietnam. In this detailed account, he makes use of interviews, primary documents, and personal experience of how the 23rd successfully defended against three North Vietnamese divisions of superior numberical strength with the help of U.S. advisers and air power." — Library Journal

"This biography details his career in the US Army...and also gives information on his early life and his marriage, drawing on the author's personal interviews with Meadows." — Book News

"Riveting account of desperate combat." — Armchair General

"McKenna's book is not only an essential historical resource for America's most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival." — First Call

"Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement." — Military Officer

"Readers unfamiliar with the later stages of the Vietnam War will enjoy McKenna's attention to detail, particularly his account of the battle of Kontum and the realities faced by American advisors." — H-Net Review

"The author's detailed accounts of the fighting make this book a must read for anyone interested in military history and particularly for anyone studying or who simply enjoys reading about the Vietnam War." — Military Writers Society of America

"McKenna has done a great job of bringing us his firsthand account of the Battle of Kontum and America's pivotal role in keeping South Vietnam from being split in half and defeated in 1972. This book is compelling reading wheather you were 'in country' at the time or not." — Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Aviator

"McKenna combines solid research and first-person interviews with his own experiences there to produce an informative book that should serve as a 'how not to' for Iraq and Afghanistan." — The Past in Review

"A well-written book that examines a relatively brief but critical chapter of the Vietnam War." — On Point

"A powerful testament to the indispensable role played by advisor teams, which has often been obscured in conventional combat histories.... It is a must for any veteran or scholar who wants an in depth understanding as to how the Vietnam War was fought, and why its conclusion came to be." — Military

"[A] thorough and insightful account about the Easter Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese in Spring 1972.... Beyond being just a history of the Battle of Kontum, McKenna's well-written and balanced account provides exceptional insights in the NVA, ARVN, and the withering commitment of the United States." — Parameters: US Army War College Quarterly

"[...] [T]he book is a heavily researched, very detailed look at the 1972 North Vietnamese Army invasion of South Vietnam, better known as the Easter Offensive, which was designed to topple the South Vietnamese government and end the war. [...] [A]nd offers an insightful picture of the colorful, contradictory ex-military man in action." — VVA Veteran Books in Review

Library Journal
In 1972, in what became known as the Easter Invasion, North Vietnam launched attacks against the South Vietnamese provincial capital of Kontum. McKenna was a lieutenant colonel serving in South Vietnam as an adviser to the 23rd Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). In this detailed account, he makes use of interviews, primary documents, and personal experience of how the 23rd successfully defended against three North Vietnamese divisions of superior numerical strength with the help of U.S. advisers and air power (almost all of the American forces had been withdrawn from Vietnam by this point). VERDICT Little has been written about the battle off Kontum. This book will be of particular interest to military historians as well as those studying the Vietnam War.—P.M.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813140360
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
07/20/2011
Series:
Battles and Campaigns
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
378
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Thomas P. McKenna, Lt. Col., USA (Ret.), served as a military adviser to the Army of South Vietnam and has published articles on military history in Vietnam, Military Officer, and Military Heritage magazines. He lives in Stowe, Vermont.

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Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jorge1711 More than 1 year ago
Having spend a few months in the Kontum area, I was especially interesting in this novel. Mr. McKenna wrote outstanding descriptions of the area, the problems encountered by the US advisors, and the teamwork necessary for the operational success. A good example of why the US needs to have one armed force, not four separate services. The 1972 - 1973 attempt was the second or third time the NVA use this avenue of approach to divide and conquer. Their last attempt in 1975 was successful because we were not there. US forces left a well equipped RVN military, but we could not leave our willingness to fight.
THEVET More than 1 year ago
An inspiring account of the valor and professionalism of the often forgotten US Army Advisors and their Army of the Republic of Vietnam counterparts. Together they defeated an invading North Vietnamese force that greatly outnumbered them and was equipped with Russian and Chinese armaments. A tribute to the valor of the American and South Vietnamese soldier. LTC Barry B Bannister, USA Ret