Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars: Local, National, and Transnational Perspectives

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Making sense of the wars for Vietnam has had a long history. The question "why Vietnam?" dominated American and Vietnamese political life for much of the length of the wars and has continued to be asked in the decades since they ended. This volume brings together the work of eleven scholars to examine the conceptual and methodological shifts that have marked the contested terrain of Vietnam War scholarship. Editors Marilyn Young and Mark Bradley's superb group of renowned contributors spans the generations—including those who were active during wartime, along with scholars conducting research in Vietnamese sources and uncovering new sources in the United States, former Soviet Union, China, and Eastern and Western Europe. Ranging in format from top-down reconsiderations of critical decision-making moments in Washington, Hanoi, and Saigon, to microhistories of the war that explore its meanings from the bottom up, these essays comprise the most up-to-date collection of scholarship on the controversial historiography of the Vietnam Wars.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Many of the 11 articles in Making Sense present wide-ranging examples of new and less conventional approaches to examining the war, with a particular focus on Vietnamese and international perspectives.... Essential."—K. Blaser, CHOICE

"This is a path-breaking, exceptionally well-researched book by both distinguished scholars who link and reinterpret the entire 1940s to 1970s series of conflicts, and leading scholars who have explored new archival sources for the first time—not least in Vietnam itself—to provide fresh, significant, and revealing insights into key aspects of a many-layered, and ever-haunting, war."—Walter LaFeber, author of America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-2006

"Examining the topic from local, national, and international perspectives, this important volume provides a superb introduction to the most recent scholarship on the Vietnam War."—George Herring, author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975

"The cutting-edge research in this volume constitutes a crucial addition to the library of anyone interested in the histories of the Vietnam Wars."—Patrick Hagopian, The Journal of American History

"There is little doubt that Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars will influence how future students of the war move forward in their efforts to understand the conflict."—James McAllister, History: Reviews of New Books

"Important and stimulating...succeeds splendidly in its goal of making sense of the various dimensions of the Vietnam War. Indeed, this is an excellent volume: a must read for first-year students and scholars alike." — The European Legacy

"Living up to its billing, the book offers a view of the Vietnam Wars from a very wide variety of perspectives with essays covering the more-or-less typical high politics, a variety of Vietnamese views, some microhistory of the revolution, and even offerings on international history and myth making."-James M. Carter, Journal of World History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195315134
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Series: Reinterpreting History Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Philip Bradley is Associate Professor of History, University of Chicago.

Marilyn B. Young is Professor of History, New York University

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Table of Contents

Introduction Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars Mark Philip Bradley Bradley, Mark Philip Marilyn B. Young Young, Marilyn B. 3

Pt. I American Intervention and the Cold War Consensus

Explaining the Early Decisions: The United States and the French War, 1945-1954 Mark Atwood Lawrence Lawrence, Mark Atwood 23

"No Place to Fight a War": Laos and the Evolution of U.S. Policy toward Vietnam, 1954-1963 Seth Jacobs Jacobs, Seth 45

Explaining the Vietnam War: Dominant and Contending Paradigms Gareth Porter Porter, Gareth 67

"There Ain't No Daylight": Lyndon Johnson and the Politics of Escalation Fredrik Logevall Logevall, Fredrik 91

Pt. II The Coming of War in Vietnam

Through a Glass Darkly: Reading the History of the Vietnamese Communist Party, 1945-1975 Sophie Quinn-Judge Quinn-Judge, Sophie 111

Vision, Power, and Agency: The Ascent of Ngo Dinh Diem, 1945-1954 Edward Miller Miller, Edward 135

Taking Notice of the Everyday David Hunt Hunt, David 171

Co So Cach Mang and the Social Network of War Heonik Kwon Kwon, Heonik 199

Pt. III War's End and Endless Wars

Cold War Contradictions: Toward an International History of the Second Indochina War, 1969-1973 Lien-Hang T. Nguyen Nguyen, Lien-Hang T. 219

"Help Us Tell the Truth about Vietnam": POW/MIA Politics and the End of the American War Michael J. Allen Allen, Michael J. 251

Official History, Revisionist History, and Wild History David W. P. Elliott Elliott, David W. P. 277

Suggested Readings 305

Index 309

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