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The Vietnam War: A Concise International History
     

The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

by Mark Atwood Lawrence
 

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The Vietnam War remains a topic of extraordinary interest, not least because of striking parallels between that conflict and more recent fighting in the Middle East. In The Vietnam War, Mark Atwood Lawrence draws upon the latest research in archives around the world to offer readers a superb account of a key moment in U.S. as well as global history.

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Overview

The Vietnam War remains a topic of extraordinary interest, not least because of striking parallels between that conflict and more recent fighting in the Middle East. In The Vietnam War, Mark Atwood Lawrence draws upon the latest research in archives around the world to offer readers a superb account of a key moment in U.S. as well as global history.

While focusing on American involvement between 1965 and 1975, Lawrence offers an unprecedentedly complete picture of all sides of the war, notably by examining the motives that drove the Vietnamese communists and their foreign allies. Moreover, the book carefully considers both the long- and short-term origins of the war. Lawrence examines the rise of Vietnamese communism in the early twentieth century and reveals how Cold War anxieties of the 1940s and 1950s set the United States on the road to intervention. Of course, the heart of the book covers the "American war," ranging from the overthrow of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem to the impact of the Tet Offensive on American public opinion, Lyndon Johnson's withdrawal from the 1968 presidential race, Richard Nixon's expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos, and the problematic peace agreement of 1973, which ended American military involvement. Finally, the book explores the complex aftermath of the war—its enduring legacy in American books, film, and political debate, as well as Vietnam's struggles with severe social and economic problems.

A compact and authoritative primer on an intensely relevant topic, this well-researched and engaging volume offers an invaluable overview of the Vietnam War.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Crisply concise.... Delves into the 'whys' of the war: why the Vietnamese fought against the United States, why the great powers were involved, why the war turned out as it did and why legacies of the war linger."—Philip Seib,Dallas Morning News

"[A] succinct history of a frustrating war that raised several painful issues America's leaders are now encountering for a second time.... A pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic."—Kirkus Reviews

"Distills the US's longest war into a short, readable narrative.... This brief summary of the tangled negotiations that prolonged the suffering caused by the war is perhaps Lawrence's most valuable contribution, since it covers an area that more extensive histories overlook.... A valuable addition to any academic library.... Essential."—C.C. Lovett, CHOICE

"The book lives up to its brief and accessible billing...."—Publishers Weekly

"In an elegant, almost elegiac prose style, Mark Lawrence takes us through the history of the Vietnam War in a narrative that transcends the usual focus on Vietnam and the United States. There is no other one volume history of the war that so thoroughly captures the war as an event in world history."—Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990

"A succinct and persuasive account of the Second Indochina War in its global context. At a time when the current U.S. involvement in Iraq evokes uneasy memories of America's controversial 'war of choice' in Vietnam, Mark Lawrence's thoughtful analysis of that previous conflict is highly welcome."—William J. Duiker, author of Ho Chi Minh: A Life

"In this concise history of the Vietnam War, Mark Lawrence does a masterful job of transforming a highly complex and controversial subject into a brilliant and balanced histoire synthèse. A rare feat."—Christopher Goscha, Université du Québec à Montréal

"It takes skill to condense a massive subject into a concise, entertaining, and accessible book. This is what Mark Atwood Lawrence accomplishes in his 224 page book The Vietnam War: A Concise International History.... This book might be even more attractive than the larger volumes on the subject because it is succint and focuses on the primary issues of the war."—Shelton Woods, Resources

'In less than two hundred pages of clear, crisp prose, Mark Atwood Lawrence succeeds in 'examining the American role within a broadly interntional conext....' The information Lawrence packs into such a short volume is most impressive: his 'introductory study' is both comprehensive and economical.... Lawrence achieves his principal objective reminding us that the geopolitical environment decisively shaped the Vietnam experience in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries."—Gregory A. Daddis, Michigan War Studies Review

"Lawrence has produced a general survey of the war that will likely become a standard resource in undergraduate courses.... One cuold not ask for a better 'concise' history than the survey Lawrence has written. His prose style is always clear and often elegant.... For a subject that has all too often inspired overwrought critiques of the various parties involved in the conflict, it is refreshing to have a synthesis that adopts a more neutral and dispassionate view of the Vietnam War."—James McAllister, History: Reviews of New Books

Library Journal

Lawrence (history, Univ. of Texas, Austin; Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam) has written a fine brief history of the Vietnam War that relies primarily on a wide reading of secondary sources but also employing newly accessible archival materials from China, Russia, and Vietnam. Lawrence focuses on U.S. policy, yet he provides an international context, offering a healthy dose of information on the role of other major players, including North and South Vietnam, the USSR, the People's Republic of China, and several European nations. He subtly incorporates major interpretations of the war and presents a balanced, nonideological narrative. If he has an overall thesis, it is that the war was an enormously complex phenomenon that does not lend itself to simplistic analysis and simple answers. Because of the book's brevity and focus on policy, Lawrence devotes relatively little space to actual combat from the ordinary soldiers' perspective. Nonetheless, this important book will be of great value to educated lay readers as well as college students looking for a readable overview. Recommended for major libraries.
—Anthony Edmonds

Kirkus Reviews
Succinct history of a frustrating war that raised several painful issues America's leaders are now encountering for a second time. Lawrence (History/Univ. of Texas; Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam, 2005) enjoyed access to Soviet archives and North Vietnamese participants, so he presents more information than was available 30 years ago-but it's still largely an American show. After a bloody victory over the French in 1954, charismatic Viet Minh leader Ho Chi Minh vehemently opposed the treaty that divided Vietnam in half, on the grounds that he had won the whole. It was Russia and China, preoccupied with their own problems and unwilling to provoke the United States, who twisted Ho's arm, the author reveals. Ironically, American leaders also opposed the treaty because it involved a compromise with communism, something they vowed never to do. Keeping South Vietnam independent, U.S. authorities agreed, required a capable South Vietnamese army led by a competent government that enjoyed popular support. In less than 200 pages, Lawrence records America's 20-year failure to accomplish this. The author spends little time on the actual fighting but makes clear the immense destruction U.S. firepower inflicted on insurgent forces, North Vietnamese troops and North Vietnam itself, as well as the civilian population on both sides. He excels in describing Lyndon Johnson and then Nixon and Kissinger desperately struggling to find an acceptable excuse to withdraw. In a justification that contemporary readers will find familiar, all three repeatedly asserted that retreating without victory would shame us before the world and embolden our enemies. The author pointsout that the opposite happened. America's popularity plunged the longer we fought and recovered afterward. Neither North Vietnam nor communism prospered following our withdrawal. A pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199753932
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/27/2010
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
233,261
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Mark Atwood Lawrence is Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam, which won the 2006 George Louis Beer Prize and Paul Birdsall Prize of the American Historical Association. He is also the co-editor of The First Vietnam War: Colonial Conflict and Cold War Crisis, and the editor of The New York Times Twentieth Century in Review: The Vietnam War.

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