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Inventing Vietnam: The United States and State Building, 1954-1968 Hardcover – April 21, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0521888653 ISBN-10: 0521888654 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 21, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521888654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521888653
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,616,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"James Carter has written the most important book to appear in the last decade about the U.S. experience in Vietnam. Using new evidence, he shows just how cynical was the nation-building project that consumed American energies and Vietnamese independence. Carter's book is a persuasive alternative to current revisionist scholarship about the Vietnam war." - William O. Walker III, University of Toronto

"Despite repeated announcements of its demise, the American effort to build nations where none existed before -- or to transform those already in place -- is alive and well and as full of contradictions as ever. James M. Carter pursues these themes with immense vigor in his compelling account of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1968. Inventing Vietnam takes the brief history of South Vietnam seriously and makes clear why it still matters." -Marilyn B. Young, New York University

"Mistaken assumptions that the United States was in some manner defending an already existing state in South Vietnam has helped mask what policy-makers at the time understood all along<-->that the United States was engaged in a massive state-building enterprise that was doomed to failure by its own logic. So argues Carter (history, Drew U.) as he reviews the history of this aspect of the US involvement in Vietnam, from the initiation of the Michigan State University Vietnam Advisory Group in the mid-1950s through to 1968." - Reference & Research Book News

"James Carter presents a concise story of American aid programs in Vietnam..." -David Briggs, Military History

"Recommended." -Choice

"...Carter provides a fresh and important perspective on the Vietnam War." -Robert J. McMahon, Journal of American History

"...James Carter has produced a fascinating, impressive, and original book on the topic, a must read for anyone interested in the origins of American involvement in Vietnam." -Edwin Martini, The Sixties

"Carter has much to offer readers beyond his insistent orthodox positions." -H-1960s

"Carter has written an original and compelling treatment of an important topic." -Andrew Preston, Journal of Cold War Studies

Book Description

The U.S. nation building project in Vietnam began in the mid-1950s with the ambitious goal of creating a new independent, democratic, modern state below the 17th parallel. Carter argues that the roots of the Vietnam War lie in this failed state-building attempt by the U.S.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Mullally on May 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mr. Carter documents the US involvement with the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) in the form of its various trade, military, and other infrastructure projects. This was the original US attempt to mold a Westernized nation on the other side of the world. It culminated in massive capital projects, mainly to support the mechanized US armed forces during the War. Mr. Carter has compiled some good research, for example his narrative is unique in its uncovering of the politics of the US Aid (Commercial Import Program) and how it was investigated by US Congress in 1959.

Unfortunately the author does not offer us the underlying faults for any of the US programs, except to frame the entire effort as a massive waste of resources, which we know already that it was. Official US statistics are not analyzed by him, just reproduced. You see, the same "aid" and military programs with little modification, have failed and continue to fail in other countries until the present day. Therefore an essential examination of the intentions and ethics of our policymakers would be far more enlightening, and possibly help us in the future. Mr. Carter takes no chances though; critical analysis plays no part in his book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book arrived quickly and in good condition. It was an interesting book to read for a class I am taking about the war. I am a Vietnam era veteran from 1964 until 1968 and learned much about the history of the war I didn't know.
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