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The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era

Overview

Pulitzer-prize winning author David Halberstam's eyewitness account provides a riveting narrative of how the United States created a major foreign policy disaster for itself in a faraway land it knew little about. In the introduction to this edition, historian Daniel J. Singal supplies crucial background information that was unavailable in the mid-1960s when the book was written. With its numerous firsthand recollections of life in the war zone, The Making of a Quagmire penetrates to the essence of what went ...

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The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era

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Overview

Pulitzer-prize winning author David Halberstam's eyewitness account provides a riveting narrative of how the United States created a major foreign policy disaster for itself in a faraway land it knew little about. In the introduction to this edition, historian Daniel J. Singal supplies crucial background information that was unavailable in the mid-1960s when the book was written. With its numerous firsthand recollections of life in the war zone, The Making of a Quagmire penetrates to the essence of what went wrong in Vietnam. Although its focus is the Kennedy era, its analysis of the blunders and misconceptions of American military and political leaders holds true for the entire war.

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Editorial Reviews

Ellen Fitzpatrick
For all the legions of books published on the Vietnam War, none surpasses one of the earliest and most prescient—David Halberstam's The Making of a Quagmire. Halberstam's shrewd observations of the complexities of Vietnamese politics and the obstacles the U.S. faced early in achieving its goals deeply inform the entire book. A brilliant study that has lost none of its power despite the history that unfolded after its publication, Halberstam's book deserves to be read again and again.
George C. Herring
Few journalists did more to educate Americans about the harsh realities of the Vietnam war than David Halberstam. The Making of a Quagmire offers numerous insights into the conflict between the American press and the U.S. government that began in those years and ultimately played a major role in the war. The book is a valuable introduction to Vietnam in the era of John F. Kennedy and Ngo Dinh Diem.
Robert Dallek
As it did in 1965, Halberstam's book will provoke vigorous discussion. Readers will marvel at how the United States allowed itself to be so misled in South Vietnam and will use the book to make connections to more recent events in the Middle East.
The New Yorker - George Packer
Halberstam's wartime work will last not just because of its quality and its importance but because it established a new mode of journalism, one with which Americans are now so familiar that it's difficult to remember that someone had to invent it.
The New Yorker
Halberstam's wartime work will last not just because of its quality and its importance but because it established a new mode of journalism, one with which Americans are now so familiar that it's difficult to remember that someone had to invent it.
— George Packer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742560086
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/9/2007
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 243,126
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.09 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Biography

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.
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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 10, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Death:
      April 23, 2007
    2. Place of Death:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Harvard, 1955

Table of Contents

Introduction
Part I: Edging Toward Calamity: Vietnam in the Early 1960s
Chapter 1: Coming into a Troubled Land
Chapter 2: Latter-Day Mandarins: The Ngo Family
Chapter 3: A Strange Alliance: The Americans and Diem
Part II: The War in the Delta
Chapter 4: In the Field with the ARVN
Chapter 5: Finding an Elusive Foe
Chapter 6: Disaster: The Battle of Ap Bac
Chapter 7: Collapse in the Delta
Part III: The Fall of the Diem Regime
Chapter 8: The Buddhist Revolt Begins
Chapter 9: The Raid on the Pagodas
Chapter 10: A Slow Change in American Policy
Chapter 11: The Saigon Press Controversy
Chapter 12: The Final Days of Ngo Dinh Diem
Chapter 13: What Should Be Done in Vietnam?
Epilogue: Return to Vietnam

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