The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

The Vietnam War: A Concise International History

by Mark Atwood Lawrence
     
 

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Hailed as a "pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic" (Kirkus Reviews), this wide-ranging volume offers a superb account of a key moment in modern U.S. and world history. Drawing upon the latest research in archives in China, Russia, and Vietnam, Mark Lawrence creates an extraordinary, panoramic view of all sides of the war. HisSee more details below

Overview


Hailed as a "pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic" (Kirkus Reviews), this wide-ranging volume offers a superb account of a key moment in modern U.S. and world history. Drawing upon the latest research in archives in China, Russia, and Vietnam, Mark Lawrence creates an extraordinary, panoramic view of all sides of the war. His narrative begins well before American forces set foot in Vietnam, delving into French colonialism's contribution to the 1945 Vietnamese revolution, and revealing how the Cold War concerns of the 1950s led the United States to back the French. The heart of the book covers the "American war," ranging from the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem and the impact of the Tet Offensive to Nixon's expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos, and the final peace agreement of 1973. Finally, Lawrence examines the aftermath of the war, from the momentous liberalization--"Doi Moi"--in Vietnam to the enduring legacy of this infamous war in American books, films, and political debate.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199753932
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
08/27/2010
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
530,753
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

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