Vietnam: Explaining America's Lost War / Edition 1

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The involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War has been the most polarizing issue within post-war American history. It was divisive at the time, both domestically and internationally, and debates continue to the present day. At the heart of the disputes has always been the question of 'failure' - why was the United States unable to achieve its objectives? Was failure inherent in the decision to go to war? Was it inherently an unwinnable war, or was failure the result of inept strategy, poor leadership, and a biased media? In Vietnam, Gary R. Hess describes and evaluates the main arguments of scholars, participants, and journalists, both revisionist and orthodox in their approach, as they consider why the United States was unable to achieve its objectives. While providing a clear and well-balanced account of existing historical debate, Hess also offers his own interpretation of the events and opens a dialogue about the usefulness of historical argument in reaching a deeper understanding of the conflict. This concise book is essential reading for students and teachers of the Vietnam War as both a clear and well-balanced account of existing historical debate and a thought-provoking look at the future of historical scholarship.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

“Outstanding Academic Title 2008. Hess offers what is arguably the best sampling of new research and analysis on the Vietnam War now available in a single volume, providing an impressive, almost indispensable introduction to the big-picture debates and controversies. It should be on a very short list of the most useful books in helping making sense of an enormously complex and controversial conflict. Essential.” (Choice Reviews, October 2008)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405125277
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/6/2008
  • Series: Contesting the Past Series, #21
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary R. Hess is Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University. He is a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and a former chair of the U.S. State Department’s Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation. His publications include Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War 1941-1945 (1998) and Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf (2001).
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Table of Contents

1 From the Streets to the Books: The Origins of an Enduring Debate 1

2 A Necessary War or a Mistaken War? 25

3 "Kennedy Exceptionalism " or "Missed Opportunity for Peace" or "Lost Victory?" - The Movement toward War, 1961-1965 50

4 The Revisionist Critique of the "Strategy for Defeat" - The Clausewitzian Alternative 84

5 The Revisionist Critique of the "Other War" - The "Hearts-and-Minds" Prescription for Victory 112

6 The Media and the War: Shaping or Reflecting Public Opinion? 133

7 The Tet Offensive: A Decisive American Victory or a Prolongation of Stalemate? 154

8 Nixon-Kissinger and the Ending of the War: A "Lost Victory" or "Neither Peace nor Honor?" 179

Bibliography 211

Index 214

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