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The Tet Offensive : A Concise History / Edition 1

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Overview

In the Tet Offensive of 1968, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces launched a massive countrywide attack on South Vietnam. Though the Communists failed to achieve their tactical and operational objectives, James Willbanks claims Hanoi won a strategic victory. The offensive proved that America's progress was grossly overstated and caused many Americans and key presidential advisors to question the wisdom of prolonging combat.

Willbanks also maintains that the Communists laid siege to a Marine combat base two weeks prior to the Tet Offensive-known as the Battle of Khe Sanh—to distract the United States. It is his belief that these two events are intimately linked, and in his concise and compelling history, he presents an engaging portrait of the conflicts and singles out key problems of interpretation.

Willbanks divides his study into six sections, beginning with a historical overview of the events leading up to the offensive, the attack itself, and the consequent battles of Saigon, Hue, and Khe Sahn. He continues with a critical assessment of the main themes and issues surrounding the offensive, and concludes with excerpts from American and Vietnamese documents, maps and chronologies, an annotated list of resources, and a short encyclopedia of key people, places, and events.

An experienced military historian and scholar of the Vietnam War, Willbanks has written a unique critical reference and guide that enlarges the debate surrounding this important turning point in America's longest war.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Willbanks (military history, U.S. Army Command & General Staff Coll., Fort Leavenworth; Abandoning Vietnam: How America Left and South Vietnam Lost Its War) has written a brief, readable, and balanced account of what historians see as the crucial battle of the Vietnam War, the 1968 Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. His own text, which makes up roughly half of the book, discusses North Vietnamese plans and reasons for the offensive, the American response to it, short-term and long-terms results, and the role of the media in reporting the communist attacks. He tries to present multiple points of view, especially in debates over the relative success of the offensive and its results. The remainder of the work consists of very helpful ancillaries, including a chronology, definitions, brief biographical sketches, selected documents (primary sources from both America and Vietnam), and a first-rate annotated guide to resources. An excellent supplementary text for college and university courses, this is appropriate for such libraries, as well as larger public ones. A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs - Lawrence D. Freedman
A careful and judicious evaluation... Students especially will find this invaluable.
Colonel; Proceedings - Gordon W. Keiser
The Tet Offensive will be of great value to military professionals, historians, and Vietnam veterans.
Major; Military Review - John M. Hawkins
[A] well-written, and helpful reference... The Tet Offensive is enjoyable reading and an important new addition.
The Journal of Military History - Larry K. Burke
Thorough... An excellent work worthy of inclusion in collections of studies on the Vietnam War.
Proceedings - Col. Gordon W. Keiser
The Tet Offensive will be of great value to military professionals, historians, and Vietnam veterans.
Military Review - MAJ John M. Hawkins
[A] well-written, and helpful reference... The Tet Offensive is enjoyable reading and an important new addition.
Choice
Without a doubt, this work will become the initial resource that student and historians alike will pull off the shelf to comprehend this seminal military event… Highly recommended.
Foreign Affairs
A careful and judicious evaluation... Students especially will find this invaluable.

— Lawrence D. Freedman

Proceedings

The Tet Offensive will be of great value to military professionals, historians, and Vietnam veterans.

— Col. Gordon W. Keiser, U.S. Marine Corps

Military Review
[A] well-written, and helpful reference... The Tet Offensive is enjoyable reading and an important new addition.

— MAJ John M. Hawkins

The Journal of Military History
Thorough... An excellent work worthy of inclusion in collections of studies on the Vietnam War.

— Larry K. Burke

Choice

Without a doubt, this work will become the initial resource that student and historians alike will pull off the shelf to comprehend this seminal military event… Highly recommended.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231128407
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 11/7/2006
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James H. Willbanks is director, Department of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel with twenty-three years service as an Infantry officer in various assignments, including a tour as an advisor in Vietnam. He is the author of two books on the Vietnam War, including Abandoning Vietnam (University Press of Kansas) and The Battle of An Loc (Indiana University Press), and the editor of a collection of essays entitled The Vietnam War (Ashgate Publishing Limited).

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionMapsAbbreviations

Part IHistorical Overview

Chapter 1. Prelude

American Public OpinionPublic Relations and Westmoreland's OptimismTroop DispositionThe Communist Decision to Conduct the OffensiveThe PlanPreparing for the Offensive

Chapter 2. Border Battles, Hill Fights, and Khe Sanh

Khe SanhThe Hill FightsOperation NiagaraThe Siege of Khe Sanh Begins

Chapter 3. The Tet Offensive

The Offensive BeginsThe Battle for SaigonThe Battle at the U.S. EmbasssyAttacks Around the CityThe Battle of CholonTEt Countrywide

Chapter 4. The Battle for Hue

The Battle BeginsThe Marines RespondFighting in the New CityThe Fight for the Citadel

Chapter 5. The Siege of Khe Sanh

The Fall of Lang VeiResupplying the MarinesTactical Air SupportA New AttackLifting the Siege

Chapter 6. The Impact of the Tet Offensive

Political FalloutThe Request for Additional TroopsThe New Hampshire PrimaryThe Presidential Election of 1968

Chapter 7. Assessing the Tet Offensive

Part IIIssues and Interpretations

Chapter 8. Motivations and Objectives of the Tet Offensive

Chapter 9. Military Intelligence and the Surprise at Tet

Chapter 10. What Happened at Hue?

Chapter 11. Why Khe Sanh?

Chapter 12. Tet and the Media

Chapter 13. Tet and the American Military Strategy

Notes

Part IIIChronology, 1967-68

Part IVThe Tet Offensive A to Z

Part VDocuments

President Johnson's "San Antonio Formula" Speech of September 29, 1967

Directive on Forthcoming Offensive and Uprisings, Priovincial Party Standing Committee, 1 November 1967

Capabilities of the Vietnamese Communists for Fighting in South Vietnam, November 13, 1967 (Extract)

Address by Commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam, General William C. Westmoreland, November 21, 1967 (Extract)

"Saigon Under Fire," CBS News Special Report, January 31, 1968

Memorandum from Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Earle G. Wheeler for the President, February 12, 1968 (Extract)

Walter Cronkite's "We are Mired in Stalemate" CBS News Broadcast, February 27, 1968

Report of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Earle G. Wheeler on the Situation in Vietnam and MACV Force Requirements, February 27. 1968 (Extract)

Summary of Notes from March 26, 1968, Meeting Between President Lyndon Johnson and the Wise Men

President Johnson's Address to the Nation Announcing His Decision Not to Seek Reelection, March 31, 1968

Part VIResources

General Works

Encyclopedias, Bibliographies, Dictionaries, Guides, and AtlasesGeneral Histories, AnthologiesBiographiesMemoirsVietnamese PerspectivesOral HistoriesDocument Collections

Lyndon Johnson and the War

The Tet Offensive

The Battle of Hue

The Siege of Khe Sanh

The Hill Fights and Border Battles

President Lyndon Johnson and the Media

Military Intelligence and Tet

U.S. Strategy in Vietnam

Combat After-action Reports and Command Histories

Microfilm/Microfiche

Documentary Films

Electronic Resources

Web SitesCD-ROMs

Archives and Libraries

Index

Columbia University Press

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