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Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-75 Hardcover – May 8, 2012
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About the Author
More About the Author
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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read 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).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book! Very detailed description of the last 2 years of the war. It's apparent that Mr. Veith did an amazing amount of detailed research for this book. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Kenneth Daily
Well researched and Mr. Veith has an excellent writing style.Published 2 months ago by Bowden Russell
Great writer. Aa a doctoral student of the cold war, I was particularly impressed by his tapping into hidden areas. Ted Sarong for examplePublished 4 months ago by Sean Patrick Innocent Dineen
Excellent book. I served in VN during the last 11 months American forces were there. The impression we were reading since then was the VN forces would not fight, but this book... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jesse Blanco
Excellently write and sourced. As good a look back as available.Published 8 months ago by Thomas J. De Young
A thorough and riveting account of a part of the Vietnam War that—because it happened after the vast majority of US forces left (and perhaps because it was worsened, if not caused,... Read morePublished 9 months ago by E. Keenan