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The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – July 23, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0199753932 ISBN-10: 0199753938 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Very Short Introductions
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (July 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199753938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199753932
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this history, University of Texas associate history professor Lawrence (Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam), sifts through centuries of struggle in the small Southeast Asian nation, beginning with the Trung sisters' first century fight to throw off Chinese domination, to illustrate how America, for the Vietnamese, was just another in a long line of ultimately vanquished enemies. Lawrence locates the Trung sisters' spiritual heir in Ho Chi Minh, the communist revolutionary who quoted the Declaration of Independence before finding himself at war with a U.S.-backed South Vietnamese insurgency. The book lives up to its brief and accessible billing, but overall there is little new regarding the "international" players, France, China, and the Soviet Union; largely American-centric, the narrative rests on major U.S. developments from the 1964 Tonkin Gulf Resolution to the fall of the American Embassy in 1975. That said, the author ably encapsulates the uses and abuses of American power, which should prove familiar to anyone following news of the current war.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


"Crisply concise.... Delves into the 'whys' of the war: why the Vietnamese fought against the United States, why the great powers were involved, why the war turned out as it did and why legacies of the war linger."--Philip Seib,Dallas Morning News


"[A] succinct history of a frustrating war that raised several painful issues America's leaders are now encountering for a second time.... A pithy and compelling account of an intensely relevant topic."--Kirkus Reviews


"Distills the US's longest war into a short, readable narrative.... This brief summary of the tangled negotiations that prolonged the suffering caused by the war is perhaps Lawrence's most valuable contribution, since it covers an area that more extensive histories overlook.... A valuable addition to any academic library.... Essential."--C.C. Lovett, CHOICE


"The book lives up to its brief and accessible billing...."--Publishers Weekly


"In an elegant, almost elegiac prose style, Mark Lawrence takes us through the history of the Vietnam War in a narrative that transcends the usual focus on Vietnam and the United States. There is no other one volume history of the war that so thoroughly captures the war as an event in world history."--Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990


"A succinct and persuasive account of the Second Indochina War in its global context. At a time when the current U.S. involvement in Iraq evokes uneasy memories of America's controversial 'war of choice' in Vietnam, Mark Lawrence's thoughtful analysis of that previous conflict is highly welcome."--William J. Duiker, author of Ho Chi Minh: A Life


"In this concise history of the Vietnam War, Mark Lawrence does a masterful job of transforming a highly complex and controversial subject into a brilliant and balanced histoire synthèse. A rare feat."--Christopher Goscha, Université du Québec à Montréal


"It takes skill to condense a massive subject into a concise, entertaining, and accessible book. This is what Mark Atwood Lawrence accomplishes in his 224 page book The Vietnam War: A Concise International History.... This book might be even more attractive than the larger volumes on the subject because it is succint and focuses on the primary issues of the war."--Shelton Woods, Resources


'In less than two hundred pages of clear, crisp prose, Mark Atwood Lawrence succeeds in 'examining the American role within a broadly interntional conext....' The information Lawrence packs into such a short volume is most impressive: his 'introductory study' is both comprehensive and economical.... Lawrence achieves his principal objective reminding us that the geopolitical environment decisively shaped the Vietnam experience in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries."--Gregory A. Daddis, Michigan War Studies Review


"Lawrence has produced a general survey of the war that will likely become a standard resource in undergraduate courses.... One cuold not ask for a better 'concise' history than the survey Lawrence has written. His prose style is always clear and often elegant.... For a subject that has all too often inspired overwrought critiques of the various parties involved in the conflict, it is refreshing to have a synthesis that adopts a more neutral and dispassionate view of the Vietnam War."--James McAllister, History: Reviews of New Books


Customer Reviews

Overall, this book does exactly what it sets out to do and it does it very well.
N.B.
This book will be of great service for laypeople interested in a concise and wide-ranging overview of the Vietnam War.
John Baesler
I would recommend it to anyone looking for some knowledge of this war that so changed the landscape of US politics.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Conor Cunneen on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Attempting to write a history of The Vietnam War in less than 200 pages of text (supported by good notes) is not an easy task. The keen student of Vietnam will find nothing new in this, but if you are looking for a generally well written concise history of this horrible conflict - read Lawrence's work.

Vietnam is a story of broken promises by world powers - United States, France, Soviet Union and China. After a brief exploration of the early history of the country, the author shows how Vietnam was but a pawn for the major powers. He paints quite clearly an inexorable slow drive to inevitable war as the US / Soviet Union / China perceive a country virtually unknown to the West as a key geo-political battle ground.

The tragedy for the United States is that Vietnam was also a domestic political football and US Presidents Kennedy and Johnson got deeper involved in the conflict "not because they were confident of victory but because they feared the consequences of defeat." The Vietnam War broke LBJ, a man who always seemed to only go half-way in implementing any advice from advisors.

I can't agree with a previous reviewer who castigates the author for his profile of Nixon. It is well documented that Nixon interfered with Johnson's peace overtures prior to the 1968 election which is a much more cynical act than his Watergate escapades. An excellent picture of Nixon and Kissinger is painted in Robert Dallek's book Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Powerand does neither of them little credit.

Very concise but good overviews of the Tet offensive and other key battles are provided.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Baesler on December 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will be of great service for laypeople interested in a concise and wide-ranging overview of the Vietnam War. In fact, it would also be a good, safe choice for college history instructors looking for a short text to use in undergraduate classes on the Vietnam War or U.S. foreign relations. A big plus of this book is that Lawrence frames his story widely, giving considerable room for discussion of French colonialism in Vietnam, World War II, and the origins of U.S. involvement, which make up about 1/3 of the book. A second plus is that he provides views from all sides of the conflict, not just the view from Washington. We learn quite a bit about power struggles and disagreements over strategy within the North Vietnamese communist party and with its allies in China and the Soviet Union. For example, it was the big communist powers who pushed Hanoi to accept the 1954 Geneva accord out of fear of provoking U.S. intervention at a time they felt they could not match U.S. power. In his judgment of U.S. policies, Lawrence is solidly in the orthodox camp, repeatedly pointing out that despite short-term successes of U.S. economic aid to the Diem regime, it was doomed due to its internal corruption. The same argument is used to evaluate U.S. military tactics: Successes on the battlefield petered out due to a fundamental flaw in strategic assumptions. Revisionists such as Mark Moyar will surely disagree, but Lawrence does represent the majority opinion among U.S. historians at the moment.

The book has no major flaws, but Lawrence's prose isn't exactly lively. At times "The Vietnam War" reads like a textbook. Given its brevity, the book merely alludes to topics such as the experience of soldiers, the effects of chemical warfare, the war in American and Vietnamese memory, etc.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Robison on June 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a good choice for those seeking introductory information on the Vietnam War. It does a good job at presenting the political dynamics of the war, yet it is deficient in that it largely ignores the later repercussions of the war for the world as well as the huge importance (whether contrived or real) the war had on the Cold War. Furthermore, the book does not delve deeply into battles occurring during the war, largely confining itself to those political factors. However, I would recommend this book as a refresher, yet it's not for those already familiar with the conflict.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter D Campbell on December 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a New Zealand soldier serving in this quagmire- this book put it all in perspective.

After serving in a well run conflict in Malaysia and then a very clever campaign under British guidance in Borneo- Vietnam was American doctrine warfare gone mad. We were appalled at the callow ignorant mainly Black American grunts, the lack of overall objectives and it simply became do your time till wakey and goodbye.

I still see the arrogance and ignorance that led America into Vietnam prevailed again in Iraq and now Afghanistan. I fear American leadership in this direction and wonder how it could happen when you meet so many erudite educated Americans who are proud of their country and reflect the ideals under which the USA was founded.

Should be compulsory reading for all State dept employees, Senate aids and field grade officers of the US armed services.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chef Flowers on July 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well written, it is historic and a yet told in way you want to hear the story. Mr. Lawrence does have a way at combining both what you learned in history class (which is boring) and the ability to tell a story (which is exciting). I did have to read this for a history class, but it was so well written I decided to keep it. It is one of my favorite books. If all history writers could write like this than history books would go flying off the shelves. It is strong writing you can almost feel the humidity from the jungle and smell the food.
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