Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans

Overview

For more than thirty years, the jungles of Vietnam were ravaged by war, resulting in nearly 1.5 million military casualties and over 4 million civilian casualties. From the French Indochina War (1946?1954) to the Communist takeover in 1975, the land and people were the victims of constant battle and were irrevocably altered by the effects of devastating violence. Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans brings together the accounts of soldiers, spies, and medical workers who...

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Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans

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Overview

For more than thirty years, the jungles of Vietnam were ravaged by war, resulting in nearly 1.5 million military casualties and over 4 million civilian casualties. From the French Indochina War (1946—1954) to the Communist takeover in 1975, the land and people were the victims of constant battle and were irrevocably altered by the effects of devastating violence. Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans brings together the accounts of soldiers, spies, and medical workers who experienced firsthand the years of conflict in Vietnam.

Few oral histories of the Vietnam War allow civilians or Communist supporters to tell their stories, and the resulting scholarship is often one-sided. Xiaobing Li, a native of China and a former soldier of the People's Liberation Army, spent seven years gathering hundreds of accounts from survivors of the war, filling gaps in the narrative, and providing new insights into the events of the war. Voices from the Vietnam War offers the personal accounts of twenty-two individuals, spanning three continents and representing multiple political beliefs and perspectives — American, Chinese, Russian, North and South Korean, Vietnamese, and Viet Cong.

Many of the narratives bear the lingering spirit and influence of the ideology imposed on the veterans by their respective governments. Some of the veterans still follow official accounts, glorifying the Communist victory in Vietnam or praising Western political involvement in the war. Among the stories are several Communist accounts that humanize and contextualize the war's events while shedding light on aspects of the war previously unknown to Western scholars. An interview with a former KGB spy reveals that Russia's support of North Vietnam was far greater than Western historians previously have speculated. Another account, by a captain in the Chinese army, details the experience of the Chinese troops who fought alongside the North Vietnamese.

While much of the scholarship on the Vietnam War focuses on battles, political maneuvering, and combat strategies, Xiaobing Li presents a collection of stories from people who witnessed the war firsthand. Voices from the Vietnam War focuses on personal combat experiences, offering a deeper historiography of America's longest war.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This volume of interviews with Vietnam War veterans adds new and surprising dimensions to our understanding of the scope of the war.... Some of this book is heartrending; some of it is as gripping as a thriller; and all of it will add to our understanding of the war."— Booklist" —

"It is the first oral history of the war — and there has been a large shelf full of them in the genre — to include the first-person voices of Chinese and Russian veterans among those from this country and Vietnam. Another criterion of a good oral history is that it unveils the human side of war. That is done well in this book, as the veterans from all nationalities talk about their wartime jobs as well as their personal lives before, during and after their service in Vietnam."— HistoryNet" —

"Li's book offers, for the first time in English, the direct testimony of Russian and Chinese veterans of the Vietnam War, including a former KGB spy."— VVA Veteran" —

"It is fascinating to hear about the war from such different viewpoints, and the author does an exceptional job in balancing his presentation and allowing the facts to speak for themselves."—WTBF Radio" —

"A valuable oral history."— Journal of America's Mility Past" —

"An essential book for anyone writing non-revisionist history of our most propagandized war."— Cybertronian Reviews" —

" Voices from the Vietnam War is an excellent addition to the historiography and an important work that helps internationalize and personalize the war in Vietnam. — H-Net Reviews" — Martin Clemis, H-Net Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813136578
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 3/7/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Xiaobing Li, professor and chair of the Department of History and Geography and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author of China at War (2011), Civil Liberties in China (2010), A History of the Modern Chinese Army (2007), and coauthor of Voices from the Korean War (2004) and Mao's General Remember Korea (2002). He served in the People's Liberation Army in China.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

List of Photographs x

Abbreviations xi

Note on Transliteration xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction: The Long War 1

Part 1 A Country Divided

1 A Buddhist Soldier Defends a Catholic Government 15

2 Surviving the Bloody Jungle 23

3 Electronic Reconnaissance vs. Guerrillas 31

4 Communist Regulars from the North 39

5 People's War against Americans 47

6 No Final Victory, No Family Life 55

Part 2 Hanoi's Comrades

7 Russian Missile Officers in Vietnam 65

8 The Dragons Tale: Chinese Troops in the Jungle 73

9 Chinese Response to the U.S. Roiling Thunder Campaign 85

10 Russian Spies in Hanoi 93

Part 3 Saigon's Allies

11 Long Days and Endless Nights: An Artillery Story 101

12 And Then They're Gone… Just Like That 111

13 No John Wayne Movie: Real Bullets, Real Blood 123

14 More Than Meets the Eye: Supporting the Intelligence Effort 131

Part 4 Doctors and Nurses

15 Medevac and Medcap Missions and More 143

16 Drowning Tears with Laughter 153

17 Life and Death of an ARVN Doctor 165

18 A Korean Captain and His Hospital 177

Part 5 Logistics Support

19 "Loggie's" War: Napalm, Fuel, Bombs, and Sweat 191

20 Support and Survival in Thailand 199

21 Three Great Escapes 205

22 Chinese Railroad Engineering Operations 215

Conclusion: Perspectives on the War 223

Notes 229

Selected Bibliography 251

Index 269

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