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After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam Paperback – February 8, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 8, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679750460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679750468
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spector ( Eagle Against the Sun ) maintains that the months following the Tet offensive (January and February 1968) illuminated the true nature of the war in Vietnam and largely determined its course during the five years that followed. In '68 both sides launched their most powerful efforts to break the military and political stalemate, and the U.S., furthermore, began to recognize potentially disastrous problems of racial tension and drug abuse among its troops. Spector analyzes the ultimately futile tactics of U.S. military operations, the "other war" effort to win hearts and minds, and the race riots at the Long Binh stockade and Danang brig, among other developments of that fateful year. He is perhaps the first major historian to scrutinize the Combined Action Program, in which Marine squads lived for indefinite periods in villages, providing aid and protection. The Army high command in Saigon regarded the program as well-meaning but misguided; according to Spector, however, it was the most effective, imaginative and humane approach the Americans devised. By concentrating on its most representative year, Spector has produced a first-rate history of the war. BOMC and History Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

America's fighting forces suffered their greatest losses of the Vietnam War in the year following the Viet Cong/North Vietnam Army's February 1968 Tet Offensive. Spector's thorough examination of this period carries some surprising conclusions about motives and methods on both sides and reinforces many accepted ones. In the overall history he focuses on some of the more important actions, like Dai Do and the siege of Kham Duo, to outline each side's tactics. Equally interesting to students of the conflict is his description of support unit life in the major urban areas, reviled by the combat troops but dangerous nonetheless. The year 1968 also saw a decline in racial harmony and an increase in drug use. This readable, insightful, comprehensive work is a step forward in Vietnam War histories. BOMC and History Book Club alternates.
- Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, Cal.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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One of the best books about the Vietnam War (and I've read every one I can get my hands on).
D. C. Carrad
As a professional historian, Dr. Spector provides authoritative information in a form that is easy to read but remarkably complete.
dab123
He also gives us very clear and vivid descriptions of the battles and everyday life of the foot solders.
John G. Hilliard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ross Gadeberg on June 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Yes Tet of 1968 was hell for those of us that were over there at the time. And then came May and August of 68, which were also two of the bloodiest months of the war. I was with the 1/27 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi, which was a major area of tunnels for which the VC and NVA stored weapons and supplies. As a "tunnel rat" I experienced some herrendous experiences there. Ron Spector has made some very good conclusions regarding the war and points out some of the many problems that we 19 year olds had to incur. Great book for those of us that were there as well as the rest of you who just want to gain some understanding as to why we lost the war, and some 56,000 young men as well.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Carl Voyles (loquat@gate.net) on September 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
This exceptionally comprehensive and readable book is a "page turner." I couldn't put it down! Highlighter in hand, I penned marginal note after note, comparing my own memories and observations as a Navy doctor ashore in I Corps in 1968 and '69 with those of the author. In the introduction Spector asks: "How did we lose the war? Why were we there?" Then he adds: "In a sense we have no real history... instead we have controversy, myth and popular memory." He then proceeds to skillfully weave historical background, Vietnamese and American, with vivid descriptions of battles, skirmishes, debates, intrigues and campaigns... providing vignettes of personal experiences balanced from many viewpoints: the young American draftee, the college OCS-trained officer, the Viet Cong soldier... generals and politicians, presidents and negotiators... Vietnamese and American. "After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam" will be placed, along with Frances Fitzgerald's "Fire in the Lake," Neil Sheehan's "Bright Shining Lie," Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and Bernard Fall's "Street Without Joy," as an irreplaceable, imminently re-readable reference on the Vietnam War.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Roger Dufresne on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
I guess I really didn't know that my period of time in Nam was the bloodiest until I read this book and all of the statistics, etc. However, I can tell you from an artilleryman's perspective in I Corps that 68 was a year that still makes me wake with the sweats every few nights. I was near My Lai in June (at LZ Dottie about 3 mos after the massacre) and the area was still bad news. My unit was also near the DMZ near Phu Bai a couple of months later - same story -at Fat City - same story and the same story for the remainder of the year. Please note that I didn't come into country until June which was about 4 1/2 months after Tet when so many of the VC were killed. I believe that the Tet Offensive was a political not a military victory because of need for the press to get stories. Yes, the VC proved that no part of Nam really was safe. But, who really felt safe in a combat area? Because of this need for press coverage I believe that the NVA and the remainder of the VC were embolden in 68 until they were nearly militarily destroyed. And at the same time how many young American men had to die or become maimed because of the press' need for blood. Don't forget the roles that McNamara and Jane Fonda (both war criminals in my perspective) had in the creation of Tet offensive. My time in 69 was not so night sweat inducing, since most of the VC and many of the NVA realized that they too were "cannon fodder" because so many of their numbers were killed or seriously wounded in 68. If you want to read a good book regarding this time period, this is one good book. It can be considered a little dry with its statistics, but what true history book doesn't give statistics. This book belongs on every Viet Nam vet's bookcase.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin M Quigg VINE VOICE on June 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
An excellent book on the Vietnamese War of 1968. Spector not only tells us why we (Americans) failed at the war but also what the weaknesses were on the other side (Viet Cong and NVA). The book summarizes some of the problems associated with the war such as race relations, lack of a professional soldiers and officers, and weapons. Spector describes that 1968 was the critical year of the war. America and the Saigon regime won the military battles but lost the political war. He equates the war at that point to the stalemate of the Western Front during the First World War.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Having served in Viet Nam immediately "After Tet" this book filled in what was going on elsewhere in-country as well as the political climate.
A couple of questionable references (like LAW = Light Automatic Weapon) were easily overlooked. The book was otherwise well written and easy to read.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven S. Berizzi on July 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
In the first paragraph of the introduction to this vivid study of one year in the Vietnam War, historian Ronald Spector asks: "How did the United States lose the war in Vietnam?" In 1968, according to Spector, the U.S. faced a dilemma: "Even while American forces were experiencing success on the battlefield and in the contest for the countryside, American GIs were beginning to show signs of coming apart under the continued strains of fighting a costly stalemated war for objectives that were never clear or compelling." Spector persuasively argues that this was the critical year in the conflict.
Although Spector is correct that the Tet Offensive in January of that year was not the complete surprise that some contemporary observers reported, the extent and ferocity of the attacks were a public relations disaster for the American military command, which had been issuing generally optimistic reports about the war. Spector reports these grim statistics: "More than 40,000 civilians had been killed or wounded in the fighting, and 1 million new refugees had been created." As Spector puts it succinctly, "the Tet Offensive had shown that no place in Vietnam was truly safe." In late March 1968, President Johnson met with an informal group of elder statesmen and advisers referred to as the "Wise Men," and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson warned: "We cannot do the job we set out to do in the time we have left, and we must begin to take steps to disengage." The President bitterly complained that "the establishment bastards have bailed out," but the Wise Men were merely articulating the consensus public sentiment: The United States could not win the war, so it had to get out!
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