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America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition) [Paperback]

by George C. Herring
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 15, 2001 0072536187 978-0072536188 4th
Comprehensive yet concise, America’s Longest War provides a complete and balanced history of the Vietnam War. It is not mainly a military history, but seeks to integrate military, diplomatic, and political factors in order to clarify America’s involvement and ultimate failure in Vietnam. While it focuses on the American side of the equation, it provides sufficient consideration of the Vietnamese side to make the events comprehensible.

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America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition) + The Things They Carried
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia and taught at Ohio University before moving to the University of Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and essays, including The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers (1983) and LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994). He served as editor of the scholarly journal Diplomatic History from 1982 to 1986 and was President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in 1990. In 1991, he served as Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and from 1993 to 1994, he was Visiting Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 4th edition (November 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072536187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072536188
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Kentucky. His book in the Oxford History of the United States series, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations since 1776 won the Robert Ferrell Prize of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A leading authority on U.S. foreign relations, he is the former editor of Diplomatic History and a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. He is the author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975, among other books. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
78 of 84 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Herring focuses on diplomacy January 26, 2001
Format:Paperback
Unlike most Vitenam books, America's Longest War chooses to examine the diplomacy element of the war instead of the typical military aspects of the conflict. I was assigned this as a textbook in my Vietnam War class in college and was surprised by the lack of military coverage in it. About two chapters into ALW, I realized that Herring was concentrating on what happened behind closed doors during the war and then it became more easy to understand. Herring also introduces the reader to the movers and shakers of the war and their reasoning behind their decisions. He also starts back with Truman's administration in dealing with French Indo-China and you get the story from the very beginning. Other books typically gloss over Truman and Ike and like to start in LBJ's administration.
Herring also informs the reader that contrary to the current popular opinion, JFK was NOT going to get out of Vietnam because he chose to let the aggressive Henry Cabot Lodge make key decisions in escalating the United States' involvement in South Vietnam. The reader begins to understand that the US lost the war in the diplomatic and political theaters and not on the battlefield. After all, the US military's job was to keep communists from taking over South Vietnam and while US troops were deployed in the country, that objective never happened.
I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in the Vietnam conflict. Although there is no coverage on military engagements, troop life, or popular battles like Khe Sanh and Dienbienphu, this book will give the reader answers on why we were there and who was making the decisions on what we did in Southeast Asia.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the First Edition. Good, but needed North POV July 30, 2000
Format:Paperback
I read the first edition of this book (published 1979). This is an excellent introduction into the Vietnam War. The book does focus on the politics and policies of the United States rather than more palatable topics such as the human stories of the war. The book gives a firm background into the years preceding American involvment in Vietnam. The first edition needed the perspective of communist sources to make it a more well rounded work, but of course at the time that was near impossible. A good book for anyone interested in a general history of the Vietnam war.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Account of American Grand Strategy in Vietnam February 3, 2007
Format:Paperback
Like many people here, I read this book for a college class concerned with providing an explanation of the numerous questions that arise whenever one ponders America in Vietnam, like why it was there, and why it lost. Any student or curious reader should find this work a great tool for this task.

The book is fairly short, numbering less than 400 pages. By that restraint alone, no reader should expect a thorough, voluminous exposition on every aspect of the war akin to Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, or a textbook for that matter. It's a piece on political history with a general thesis, numerous recurring themes, and plenty of information to back everything up.

The thesis is that the containment strategy America adopted around the Korean War, and its perceiving Vietnam as a strategic door to all of Southeast Asia, prevented each successive president from leaving Vietnam to the wolves and forced each one to progressively raise American stakes n the region. Numerous other variables--some consistent to all presidencies, like fear of facing the same political bloodletting as Truman got over "losing" China in 1949; some specific to the president, like JFK's need to take a stand somewhere after negotiating on Laos, and after the Berlin wall was erected--accompanied this grand one, but the central theme of this book draws a vivid picture of proud Cold Warriors refusing to back down and unwilling to commit entirely, hoping to bluff out an enemy who had already gone all in.

Of course, because it is a work with a point to prove rather than a huge collection of unfiltered facts, the reader must be wary of buying into Herring's perspective without private review of his logic.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best introduction to the Vietnam War. November 3, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
For anyone interested in a basic understanding of the politics and diplomacy of the Vietnam War, this is the place to start. It is widely used in college classes around the country. The style is very readable, and the book includes useful maps and an excellent bibliographic essay for further reading.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Concise, Systematic, Written Well; 4.5 stars June 27, 2007
Format:Paperback
This is a concise but systematic overview and narrative of the Vietnam war. Evenhanded and drawing on a remarkably rich secondary literature, America's Longest War covers American involvement in Vietnam from the immediate post-WWII period up to the Clinton administration. This is mainly the story of American policy making and the American experience. While Herring does deal with the South Vietnamese experience, there is relatively little analysis of North Vietnamese experience and decision making. This is unavoidable due to the lack of material from North Vietnam.
Herring presents our involvment in Vietnam as the logical, though not inevitable, result of the basic containment strategy of the Cold War. He describes very well the gradual entanglement in Vietnam across multiple Presidential administrations, culminating in Johnson's decision to commit major numbers of American ground troops. Herring does very well also in describing the diplomatic history and its interaction with domestic American politics. He does quite well at the basic political history of South Vietnam and provides a nice overview of the basic military history.
Herring's basic point is that the containment logic formed the lens through information about Vietnam was seen. The containment logic was essentially universally accepted in the USA and even became a crucial part of domestic politics. There were very few efforts, made usually by a small number of people and generally rebuffed, to critically examine the idea that deterring a Communist takeover in South Vietnam was really essential to American security. In Herring's presentation, our involvement in Vietnam takes on a tragic dimension.
Its impossible to read this book today and avoid comparisons with the Iraq morass.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
I've used this book in my courses, re-issue after re-issue. It is such a well-balanced account and so authoritative, despite being very short.
Published 3 months ago by Karl G. Larew
1.0 out of 5 stars Herring legitamizes the now debunked Winter Soldier trial
If you are a student being forced to read this book for a class about America's Crusade in South East Asia I have a few words of warning for you. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sgt. Rock
5.0 out of 5 stars Always question political leaders
Learned a great deal from this work. It really informed about the reasons for certain decisions. As a whole a very well written book. Read more
Published 11 months ago by larry benjamin
5.0 out of 5 stars Limits of A Cold War Empire
The Vietnam War was an unconventional war that lasted, as many believe, for ten years. The case can be made that the war started much earlier than that and for the American... Read more
Published 13 months ago by shaun brammer
4.0 out of 5 stars typical triple cross political theology
I was aware of a war against godless Commies early in my life, but I hardly realized how France had lost the war years before I was born. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bruce P. Barten
4.0 out of 5 stars Nixon-phobia Derails Otherwise Exemplary Work
This is, categorically, the single finest expose of America's involvement with Vietnam I have ever read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Suppresst
5.0 out of 5 stars textbook needed
I had to order this for a college class. It came 1 day earlier than even Amazon expected. Also...it was a brand new , shrink wraped item. Read more
Published 14 months ago by L. Bednarski
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy reading
I started this book hoping I wouldn't get bogged down in minutia and end up putting it down. I didn't. The book was paced like a good novel. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Kelly S. Larue
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tough Trip Down Memory Lane
I lived through the Vietnam War. I was not a soldier, though I did serve in the Navy during that time. But was a student, an undergrad 63-67, and a grad 67-70. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gary M. Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars good basic reference
I used this book as background for a thesis paper on the Vietnam war. The author provides a clear overview in this accessible and well organized work. Read more
Published on December 8, 2010 by Tyler Morgan
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