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Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75 Hardcover – May 8, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George J. Veith, a former Army captain, has written extensively on the Vietnam War and POWs/MIAs. He is most recently the author of Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War (2004). He has presented papers at major conferences, including the May 2008 conference in Paris on “War, Diplomacy, and Public Opinion: The Paris Peace Talks on Vietnam and the End of the Vietnam War (1968-1975).” He testified twice on the POW/MIA issue before the Congress.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594035725
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594035722
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

People often ask me how I got involved in writing about Vietnam, since I did not serve there. Here is the short answer to that question.
I am a former Armor officer, having served in tank units in Germany and the U.S. I've always been interested in military history, and in particular, historical mysteries. My initial foray into Vietnam was investigating the POW/MIA issue, a natural fit on both counts. One can't understand the POW/MIA issue without learning about the war, which led me to dive deeper into the conflict.
I also always wanted to write, and years ago, I found some documents at the Army's Carlisle Barracks on the Joint Personnel Recovery Center (JPRC), the military's top-secret unit to recover American prisoners during the Vietnam War. Realizing that no one had ever written about these guys, I made ten trips to Carlisle going through all their Vietnam materials. Eventually I located about 80% of the JPRC weekly and monthly reports, and I was off! That research led to "Code-Name Bright Light," my first book.
My second book, "Leave No Man Behind," is the memoirs of my friend Bill Bell, who led the USG's POW/MIA field investigation teams after the war. It was published in 2004.
In April 2001, my friend and translator, Merle Pribbenow, and I visited MG Le Minh Dao, the last commander of the ARVN 18th Division. We interviewed him about the battle of Xuan Loc, which took place in April 1975. His unit stood their ground in some very heavy combat, and our article on the battle was published in January 2004 in the "Journal of Military History." Dao was so pleased with our efforts that he begged me turn the paper into a book on the final two years of the war. He emphatically told me that the RVNAF had fought well, and they were not the corrupt cowards so often portrayed in the American media. Thus began a ten-year journey of research and writing that finally culminated in "Black April."
I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 111 people found the following review helpful By HistoryBuff on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Black April is a book about the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. The book has 18 chapters, each titled by a quote, and an introduction. The book tells the story of South Vietnam in the last two years (1973-1975) of the Vietnam War, starting with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and ending with the final collapse of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

The story is told from a military viewpoint. Those with other interests (e.g., political, social) may be easily turned off with detailed military maneuvers, troop movements, strategies, etc. However, the author skillfully intertwines war scenes with anecdotes of the human spirit, poignant and touching.

For those who are interested in military history, or just history in general, this book is a must-read. The chapters are full of detailed and vivid descriptions with maps and accounts of what happened during the last few months of the war. The author presents the material from a fairly objective position, using sources from all sides, including communist sources, in printed materials, memoirs, articles, etc. In addition to superb narrative, the author also provides valuable insights and analysis on what, how, and why things happened the way they did.

The collapse of South Vietnam started with the Paris Peace Accords in 1973 when Nixon pressed South Vietnam President Thieu into signing the agreement by promising harsh reaction to violations of the Peace Accords by the Communists (Chapter 1). Nixon's promise to Thieu was kept secret from Congress. However, it is doubtful that things would have been different had Congress known about it.

As expected, the Communists didn't sign the Peace Accords in good faith. It was merely a trick to allow the Americans to complete the face-saving withdrawal from Vietnam.
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71 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Van Pham on May 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With George J Veith's "Black April" we finally, a book that tells a more complete tales about the final years of the Viet Nam War and make used of the latest de-classified documents from all sides to give the readers a more complete understanding of the end of the Vietnam War. Unlike many previous American "historians" who blamed the South Vietnamese for the lost of the Vietnam war. Black April shows that the drastic cut in military aids to South Vietnam for fiscal year 1974 to 1975 combines with some critical mistakes made by the South Vietnamese was the blame for the outcome of "Black April" 1975.

I have several family members who were directly involved in some of the events described in this book. One of my brothers was a First Lieutenant with medical staff of the ARVN 2nd Field Hospital in Kontum and was with the rear guard unit fighting at Cung Son. Another brother, Truong Pham was a First Lieutenant with the 52nd Regiment/18th Division. My brothers' discussions of events such as the withdraws from the Highland and the battle of Xuan Loc pretty much corporate Veith description of these events.

Thanks to Mr. Veith for telling the tales that is long overdue.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun on September 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The decades of conflict in Vietnam have produced countless books covering France's and America's involvement. Few, if any, focus on the South Vietnamese military and their efforts after the US pulled out in 1973. General knowledge promotes the image of a hapless, inept, and corrupt government and military. Author Veith acknowledges that this indictment is not undeserved but there is a need to accurately balance that depiction with certain capabilities and successes. He does a credible job highlighting the bravery of certain commanders, units (the 81st Airborne Rangers standout) and individuals but overall results end up speaking volumes.

Black April contains several interesting insights. Given that it had been the "least-used weapon system" of the war, one such insight was the role of armor in the final battles. The conflict became fluid so tanks and APCs became vital. Indeed, the images of T-54s breaking into Saigon's Presidential Palace are second only to the desperate helicopter departures from the US embassy. Another aspect that intrigued was how the Communists regrouped after their disasters in 1972. They learned both from strategic and tactical mistakes but more amazing is how they improved engineering, logistics and supply. This included weapon and vehicle repair, road building, petroleum pipelines, warehousing, and shipping.

The Fall of Saigon is also illuminating with over 500,000 Communist forces arrayed against 125,000 South Vietnamese. The generals of the People's Army admit the battle for the city was hard fought contrary to popular belief. However, the speed of the South's total defeat tends to erode the author's contention that they were not bunglers.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew California on April 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a little teen-ager growing up in Saigon in the early 1970s, I have always been puzzled and perplexed about how the Vietnam War had ended the way it did in April of 1975. Why was the RVN's final collapse so sudden, so quick, and so chaotic ? How did the Northern Vietnamese Communists achieve final and total victory in such a short time and miraculous way ? Why was there no final deal agreement with the advancing and winning North Vietnamese for a more orderly, organized, transitional type of coalition government ? This book by George Veith have given me all the answers to those questions above, and much more.

Very well-researched and written for a mainly Western/US audience, it tries to tell the story of how the Republic of South Vietnam has succumbed to the Northern Vietnamese Communist forces during the last 2 years of its existence. And this poignant story is told from a mainly Vietnamese (both North and South) viewpoints. Unless you were living in Vietnam and had participated in that War, it will be very hard for you to fully understand and grasp all of the details (geography, military, political, cultural, etc.) of the author's account, as well as the heroic fighting spirit of the South Vietnamese Army of that earlier era.

Knowing what we know now, some of the insights, explanations and conclusions given by the author are really refreshing and dead-on. All of the unique military, geo-political, and socio-economic realities (and circumstances) that had lead to the Fall of South Vietnam have been revealed and analyzed in detail. (I have some relatives who were in the South Vietnamese Army and Government, and their account of the final 2 years, especially the final months and weeks leading to the Fall of Saigon, corroborates with the author's findings).
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Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75
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