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America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition) 4th Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0072536188
ISBN-10: 0072536187
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia and taught at Ohio University before moving to the University of Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and essays, including The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers (1983) and LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994). He served as editor of the scholarly journal Diplomatic History from 1982 to 1986 and was President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in 1990. In 1991, he served as Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and from 1993 to 1994, he was Visiting Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages; 4th edition (November 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072536187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072536188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Unlike most Vitenam books, America's Longest War chooses to examine the diplomacy element of the war instead of the typical military aspects of the conflict. I was assigned this as a textbook in my Vietnam War class in college and was surprised by the lack of military coverage in it. About two chapters into ALW, I realized that Herring was concentrating on what happened behind closed doors during the war and then it became more easy to understand. Herring also introduces the reader to the movers and shakers of the war and their reasoning behind their decisions. He also starts back with Truman's administration in dealing with French Indo-China and you get the story from the very beginning. Other books typically gloss over Truman and Ike and like to start in LBJ's administration.
Herring also informs the reader that contrary to the current popular opinion, JFK was NOT going to get out of Vietnam because he chose to let the aggressive Henry Cabot Lodge make key decisions in escalating the United States' involvement in South Vietnam. The reader begins to understand that the US lost the war in the diplomatic and political theaters and not on the battlefield. After all, the US military's job was to keep communists from taking over South Vietnam and while US troops were deployed in the country, that objective never happened.
I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in the Vietnam conflict. Although there is no coverage on military engagements, troop life, or popular battles like Khe Sanh and Dienbienphu, this book will give the reader answers on why we were there and who was making the decisions on what we did in Southeast Asia.
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Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of this book (published 1979). This is an excellent introduction into the Vietnam War. The book does focus on the politics and policies of the United States rather than more palatable topics such as the human stories of the war. The book gives a firm background into the years preceding American involvment in Vietnam. The first edition needed the perspective of communist sources to make it a more well rounded work, but of course at the time that was near impossible. A good book for anyone interested in a general history of the Vietnam war.
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Format: Paperback
Like many people here, I read this book for a college class concerned with providing an explanation of the numerous questions that arise whenever one ponders America in Vietnam, like why it was there, and why it lost. Any student or curious reader should find this work a great tool for this task.

The book is fairly short, numbering less than 400 pages. By that restraint alone, no reader should expect a thorough, voluminous exposition on every aspect of the war akin to Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, or a textbook for that matter. It's a piece on political history with a general thesis, numerous recurring themes, and plenty of information to back everything up.

The thesis is that the containment strategy America adopted around the Korean War, and its perceiving Vietnam as a strategic door to all of Southeast Asia, prevented each successive president from leaving Vietnam to the wolves and forced each one to progressively raise American stakes n the region. Numerous other variables--some consistent to all presidencies, like fear of facing the same political bloodletting as Truman got over "losing" China in 1949; some specific to the president, like JFK's need to take a stand somewhere after negotiating on Laos, and after the Berlin wall was erected--accompanied this grand one, but the central theme of this book draws a vivid picture of proud Cold Warriors refusing to back down and unwilling to commit entirely, hoping to bluff out an enemy who had already gone all in.

Of course, because it is a work with a point to prove rather than a huge collection of unfiltered facts, the reader must be wary of buying into Herring's perspective without private review of his logic.
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Format: Paperback
For anyone interested in a basic understanding of the politics and diplomacy of the Vietnam War, this is the place to start. It is widely used in college classes around the country. The style is very readable, and the book includes useful maps and an excellent bibliographic essay for further reading.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Had I been male, I would have been a prime candidate for the draft during the War in Vietnam. As the only female in my law school class, I was the only person not spending class brakes talking about draft numbers and possible deferments.

Like the rest of my generation, I watched the war on television and am certainly familiar with the names and personalities. In more recent years I have tried to so some reading on the war and with an interest in JFK, have always pondered the question of whether or not the war would have evolved in the same way had Kennedy lived. With that being said, I have to admit that I did not have a clear knowledge of the sequence of events that lead to America's involvement in the war.

George Herring's AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR did that for me. It puts in historical context many events that I was aware of individually but did not piece together in historical context. For example, I've recently done some reading about Watergate and a bio of Nixon. Herring puts all of that into context and how ultimately, the War that lead to Watergate caused Nixon's demise. I would strongly recommend it for someone who wants a basic understanding of how America got to where it was in relation to Vietnam.

There are many tragedies, acts of stupidity, and just bad judgment written about in this book but the saddest part relate to the unnecessary loss of life on both sides. And how the American people where kept in the dark about the conduct of the war. The tragedy for America was the 58,000 lives lost and the billions of dollars that were spent.

It is a useless debate now, but one could speculate as to what America could have been like had this money been used for schools, roads, bridges and health care or just a reduction of taxes.
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