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Our Vietnam/Nuoc Viet Ta: A History of the War 1954-1975 Hardcover – January 15, 2000

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 770 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (January 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684812029
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684812021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

By the evidence former New York Times war correspondent A. J. Langguth presents in Our Vietnam, that long conflict can be seen as a steadily accumulating series of missteps, misinterpretations, and mistakes. Some had their origins in earnest attempts to bring scientific method to bear on the business of killing, such as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's belief in the theory of "statistical control," a cost-benefit accounting procedure that, hitherto confined to factories, was applied to the battlefield with tragic result. Some, such as the endless argument at the Paris peace talks over the shape of the conference table, were born in the endless struggle to win the war on the propaganda front. And some, like the CIA's misreading of events that led to the 1963 coup against South Vietnamese leader Diem, arose from an almost willful refusal to recognize the realities of Vietnamese society.

In this thoroughgoing history of America's adventure in Vietnam, Langguth shows a clear appreciation for the war's many ironies--Lyndon Johnson's plan to build a huge dam on the Mekong River while bombing the neighboring countryside into submission, Ho Chi Minh's distress at having to battle the Americans, whose ally he had once been--while charting a clear narrative course through a dauntingly complex series of events. His highly readable book, ranking alongside Stanley Karnow's Vietnam: A History, promises to become a standard history of the era, and it is superb in every respect. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

The New York Times Vietnam correspondent and sometime Saigon bureau chief during the war, Langguth has since written eight books (including Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution) and now teaches journalism at USC's Annenberg School of Communications. Short on analysis yet with the comprehensiveness of a long-term, slow-cooked project, his new book sets out the politically charged policy-making story of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War completely and seamlessly. Four sections pair leaders from each sideDKennedy and Ho Chi Minh (long); Vo Nguyen Giap and Lyndon Johnson (longer); Nixon and Le Duc Tho; Le Duan and FordDcreating a personality-driven saga via dozens of individual stories. Langguth has interviewed many of the major players and mined the best primary and secondary accounts, but his interviews with lesser known but consequential American and Vietnamese eyewitnesses prove the most revelatory: William Kohlmann of the CIA; Viet Cong Lt. Ta Minh Kham; Foreign Service Officer Paul Kattenburg; former State Department director of intelligence Thomas Hughes; Nguyen Dinh Tu, a one-time South Vietnamese newspaper reporter; and many others. The result is a well-crafted and adroitly balanced account that tells a long, compelling story and sets itself apart from the Vietnam War pack. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

It is one of the few Viet Nam books to analyze our misadventure in a global perspective.
Tiburon Tom
Having said all this.... The book is great - the overall feeling is one of dismay and betrayal when you look at the course of events outlined by Langguth.
This book is a must-read for anyone wanting an in-depth history/ chronology of the Vietnam war.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By E. Grabianowski on May 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
This work shows exactly how the United states gradually became involved in Vietnam from the details on up. Other reviews have commented on Langguth's objectivity and accuracy. I will mention the most lasting impression this book left on me:
Most of us have the perception that the great men of power throughout history are made of something different from ourselves. We only see them on the world's stage, made up and prepared; speeches rehearsed; ceremony and station lending gravity to their every word and action. We don't think of them sleepless; with a bit of popcorn stuck in their teeth; complaining to their wives; or any of the other everyday situations that even these men of power experience. And so we assume their minds are always bent to grand designs. We think they hold a certain wisdom that lets them maneuver through politics and war, making decisions based on facts or morality.
Langguth's tale tells a different story. Decisions that cost tens of thousands of lives and reshape the world are made by men as sweaty and itchy as you and I. Wars are started because of ego, petty squabbles, and job security. Elections! How many have died so that one man could keep his job? So we see Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon, and all the well-dressed men around them, chewing their lips and eyeing one and other with mistrust, stabbing one and other in the back, lying and cheating, making mistakes.
Wars are started all because we make the mistake of investing such power in mere humans.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
One can now add this interesting and informative book to the growing list of recent tomes adding to our understanding of how we can so inextricably drawn into the unfortunate miasma called Vietnam. Certainly, according to able historian A. J. Langguth, there is more than enough culpability in the stream of administrations stretching back as far as the Eisenhower years to add to the coals on the slowly spreading conflagration it eventually became. According to the author, there is little doubt that the Vietnam War wound up being the single most divisive war since the Civil war more than 100 years before. The reasons it split the country into two angry and warring camps were related to its very causes, namely the arrogance and hubris of the WWII generation of those believing in their un power and invulnerability, the so called "best and brightest" that David Halberstam described so beautifully in his book of the same name.
Langguth employs a treasure-trove of new material to examine the way sin which the various administrations made decisions leading us along the deceptive path that led to ever deeper and deeper involvement in Vietnam. And although Eisenhower had warned about the dangers of relying on the wisdom and purposes of the rising clique of the "military-industrial'' complex, he made decisions that facilitated the further extension of policy into Vietnam by the young and relatively unwary president who followed him. Yet it was through Kennedy's reliance on old cold warriors for advice and counsel that led him into a deepening commitment.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I lived through that war and now I see from this book how so many US politicians put their political/election interests above what needed to be done. Langguth clearly spells it out, and I kept reading and reading. The photographs were great. I wish there were a few more maps. And Kissinger!! -- what a terrible manipulative "advisor" repeatedly going after his own glory for the history books; sucking up to the presidents one day and laughing at them behind their backs the next. And then the book shows the military deliberately giving wrong information to the White House. No wonder it was a mess. And the people and soldiers suffered terribly. This book is really valuable. Special thanks to the author. Now I want to read more books about this tragic war.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "ravi1961" on August 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Vietnam has been covered extensively in the contemporary press - so a bit of perspective is always useful. While Langguth is no historian, he has mapped the territory with diligence, and this volume needs to be considered as a journalistic tour-de-force. Langguth makes no apology for the subsequent behaviour of the Vietnamese regime post-1975. Any discussion on the history of Vietnam until April 1975 should not be confused with the post-1975 phase. Having said all this....
The book is great - the overall feeling is one of dismay and betrayal when you look at the course of events outlined by Langguth. As the author concludes, the American leadership let down both the Vietnamese people and the American people. Re-election politics governed the behaviour of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon - both in terms of ignoring the reality on the ground as well as in terms of committing American air and ground forces. The latter had the effect of taking American lives, which is when the war became truly unpopular (and took thousands of Vietnamese lives). People like George Ball and McGeorge Bundy came around to the view that the war had no merits or interest for America early on, and there was no way they could express these views without losing the ear of the President they served.
I have read quite a bit of Kissinger, and for someone who has a lot of respect for Kissinger, Langguth's views on him come as a surprise. The view that emerges is that Kissinger essentially implemented the starting point of the negotiations arrived at by Harriman and Le Duc Tho in 1968 under Johnson. This is where the dismay comes in - five years later, the end-result was the same, and Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.
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