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Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975 (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – May 1, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Merle Pribbenow's fine translation of this important PAVN official history of the war from 1954 to 1975 contains much detail never before available in English....A valuable resource for serious students of the Vietnam War." EDWIN E. MOISE, AUTHOR OF TONKIN GULF AND THE ESCALATION OF THE VIETNAM WAR "Pribbenow's skillful and graceful translation provides valuable insights into many aspects of the Vietnam War from the North Vietnamese perspective, which is often surprisingly candid. He deserves our thanks for making this important volume accessible to a wider audience." LOUIS SORLEY, AUTHOR OF A BETTER WAR "Fills a yawning gap in the growing literature on the Vietnam War." WILLIAM J. DUIKER, AUTHOR OF HO CHI MINH: A LIFE

From the Back Cover

"Merle Pribbenow's fine translation of this important PAVN official history of the war from 1954 to 1975 contains much detail never before available in English. . . . A valuable resource for serious students of the Vietnam War."- -Edwin E. Moise, author of Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War

"Pribbenow's skillful and graceful translation provides valuable insights into many aspects of the Vietnam War from the North Vietnamese perspective, which is often surprisingly candid. He deserves our thanks for making this important volume accessible to a wider audience."--Lewis Sorley, author of A Better War

"Fills a yawning gap in the growing literature on the Vietnam War."--William J. Duiker, author of Ho Chi Minh: A Life

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700611754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700611751
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,146,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin M. Boylan on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Victory in Vietnam has all the flaws that one would expect in an official history, compounded by the strong ideological bias of its Communist authors and publishers. Yet, histories of the war written by Americans and other Westerners have hardly been free of ideological bias -- whether the older, leftist, anti-war perspectives of Lloyd Gardiner, Gabriel Kolko, et al, or the more recent, revisionist works of right-wing ideologues such as Mark Moyar, etc. If one is willing to read between the lines of the propaganda, the reader of Victory in Vietnam will be rewarded with many facts and insights that are unavailable in any other work published in the English-language. Americans are accustomed to looking at the war as a catastrophic defeat, and most of our Vietam historiography searches for the causes -- and often, scapegoats -- for that defeat. This book, on the other hand, is the chronicle of a victory won against long odds -- a fresh perspective that has long been badly needed. Therefore, Victory in Vietnam is a valuable work that should be in the library of every serious student of the Vietnam War.
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Format: Hardcover
Merle Pribbenow has done an incredible and masterful job in translating what is purported to be “The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954-1975.” Translating from one language to another is a special skill that goes far beyond simply substituting words in one language for words in another. Beyond providing a structure for verbal communications, language also provides a framework upon which thoughts are constructed. It is possible to provide perfect literal translation between languages while failing to convey the meaning of the thoughts behind the expression. The task is magnified when translating from Asian languages, which don't even share parts of speech, to English. Mr. Pribbenow masters this task in providing a smooth, flowing, and eminently readable work of historical importance.

With respect to the content of the book, I'm quite surprised.  The Vietnamese have been surprisingly honest in their recounting of the war.  Of course, there was the usual ideologically shaped rhetoric that one often encounters while reading communist prose...sloganeering such as "war against the Americans to save the nation," for example.  Americans were always “imperialist” or “neo-colonial,” while South Vietnamese were always “puppets.” Several times I found myself pondering how to calculate the number of Americans that would have to have been in Vietnam to support the numbers which the Vietnamese claim to have killed (they did leave room for interpretation..."killed" was invariably accompanied by qualifiers such as "or dispersed" and "or taken out of action").
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Format: Hardcover
Victory in Vietnam is pretty much what you would expect from the Military History Institute of Vietnam: a hyperbolic, wildly pro-communist, and deeply flawed piece of propaganda. The authors inflate the losses they inflicted on the South Vietnamese and Americans exponentially. For instance, they claim 34 kills against B-52s when in fact 15 were shot down. The book is still useful to the specialist in Vietnam War history because of what is present and missing in the book.
Communist sympathizers in the US have claimed for decades that the war was a civil war devoid of participation by North Vietnamese Army troops, but their own official history celebrates the infiltration and combat of their forces in South Vietnam. It has also been claimed the the "central office for South Vietnam" was a myth the Americans manufactured to excuse Nixon's incursions into Cambodia. Well, the North Vietnamese write of COSVN more times that I can count. They also write proudly of the supplies they infilitrated into South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trai, and document the American efforts to interdict it.
Interestingly there is almost no mention of the communist guerrillas, the National Liberation Front/Viet Cong. Perhaps the Hanoi government wants to take all of the credit for the conquest.
There are interesting nuggets in the book worth mining, but in the main it is a reflection of the brutal, hysterically ideological culture that was communist Vietnam in the 1960s-1980s--a government uninterested in and unable to appreciate anything approaching objectivity and truth. The one exception was the chapter that admitted the severe problems the communist army had after the Tet offensive. Even here, the authors portray the starvation of its troops as proof of perseverance, not of defeat.
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