Comprehensive History

Comprehensive histories of the Vietnam War cover the conflict from its origins in the colonial era to its conclusion with the fall of Saigon. They set out the array of involved parties and attempt to explain what motivated each one to act as it did. Conduct of the war is analyzed by integrating political, diplomatic, military, economic and cultural factors, while root causes of United States failure and North Vietnamese success are brought to light.

The Battle of Hue had just broken out. Twenty-six year old Lt. Tran Ngoc Hue heard the shooting at his home within the Citadel wall. He told his family to go down to the bunker, which as a prudent South Vietnamese he had dug, then set out to bicycle through the darkness to his men, in civilian clothes. He commanded the "Black Panthers", the ARVN 1st Division's quick reaction force, whose members were scattered around Hue. He found himself moving among a North Vietnamese column, but wasn't noticed. He was radioed to move with his depleted company to 1st Division headquarters. The company reached the command post just before the North Vietnamese attacked — and were repulsed.

The Battle of Hue had just broken out. Twenty-six year old Lt. Tran Ngoc Hue heard the shooting at his home within the Citadel wall. He told his family to go down to the bunker, which as a prudent South Vietnamese he had dug, then set out to bicycle through the darkness to his men, in civilian clothes. He commanded the "Black Panthers", the ARVN 1st Division's quick reaction force, whose members were scattered around Hue. He found himself moving among a North Vietnamese column, but wasn't noticed. He was radioed to move with his depleted company to 1st Division headquarters. The company reached the command post just before the North Vietnamese attacked — and were repulsed.

Created by DK in association with the Smithsonian Institution, this authoritative guide chronicles America's fight against the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s, comprehensively exploring the politics of the era, the most influential figures, the key events, and the lasting effects of the Vietnam War. Filled with more than 500 photographs, The Vietnam War tells the story of America's involvement in this controversial war through powerful images. Gallery spreads feature collections of artillery, aircraft, infantry weapons and armored vehicles, while maps and diagrams show exactly where major battles and key events took place.

Created by DK in association with the Smithsonian Institution, this authoritative guide chronicles America's fight against the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s, comprehensively exploring the politics of the era, the most influential figures, the key events, and the lasting effects of the Vietnam War. Filled with more than 500 photographs, The Vietnam War tells the story of America's involvement in this controversial war through powerful images. Gallery spreads feature collections of artillery, aircraft, infantry weapons and armored vehicles, while maps and diagrams show exactly where major battles and key events took place.

In the March 1, 1963 edition of the NY Times, a report from David Halberstam told readers that senior ARVN commanders were using intelligence to avoid guerrillas and fake operations in the entire stretch of country from north of Saigon down through the entire Mekong Delta. Details of the story made the source of this unusual dispatch obvious to U.S. Army insiders: It could only have been Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann. Halberstam's report stated that "one American advisor" had become so upset over these farces and their consequences for the future that he had sent a sharply critical report to his superiors in Saigon, and that the report had caused an investigation to be ordered.

In the March 1, 1963 edition of the NY Times, a report from David Halberstam told readers that senior ARVN commanders were using intelligence to avoid guerrillas and fake operations in the entire stretch of country from north of Saigon down through the entire Mekong Delta. Details of the story made the source of this unusual dispatch obvious to U.S. Army insiders: It could only have been Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann. Halberstam's report stated that "one American advisor" had become so upset over these farces and their consequences for the future that he had sent a sharply critical report to his superiors in Saigon, and that the report had caused an investigation to be ordered.

Le Duan, the top man in Hanoi, ruthlessly neutralized those who dared oppose his plans for the Tet Offensive. Starting in the summer of 1967, he undertook a massive purge remembered in Vietnam as the "Revisionist Anti-Party Affair". Hundreds of people suspected of having doubts about the planned offensive were denounced as revisionists, spies, or pro-Soviet traitors. Some were locked up in the old French prison that American POWs called the "Hanoi Hilton". General Giap, a rival of Le Duan, had gone to Hungary for medical treatment and was encouraged to stay there. While he was out of the country, soldiers on his staff were arrested. Ho Chi Minh himself was sent to China for medical treatment in September.

Le Duan, the top man in Hanoi, ruthlessly neutralized those who dared oppose his plans for the Tet Offensive. Starting in the summer of 1967, he undertook a massive purge remembered in Vietnam as the "Revisionist Anti-Party Affair". Hundreds of people suspected of having doubts about the planned offensive were denounced as revisionists, spies, or pro-Soviet traitors. Some were locked up in the old French prison that American POWs called the "Hanoi Hilton". General Giap, a rival of Le Duan, had gone to Hungary for medical treatment and was encouraged to stay there. While he was out of the country, soldiers on his staff were arrested. Ho Chi Minh himself was sent to China for medical treatment in September.

Vietnam: A History

By Stanley Karnow

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Arthur Radford had floated the idea that the U.S. might save the French in Indochina by using thee tactical nuclear weapons against the Viet Minh. Vice President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and others supported the proposal. In a public speech, Nixon even raised the possibility of deploying American troops to Vietnam should the French be defeated, although he backtracked after President Eisenhower ruled out American intervention. Writing in 1964, in criticism of President Johnson's reluctance to rapidly escalate, Nixon cautioned that Asia's fate hinged on the outcome in Vietnam.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Arthur Radford had floated the idea that the U.S. might save the French in Indochina by using thee tactical nuclear weapons against the Viet Minh. Vice President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and others supported the proposal. In a public speech, Nixon even raised the possibility of deploying American troops to Vietnam should the French be defeated, although he backtracked after President Eisenhower ruled out American intervention. Writing in 1964, in criticism of President Johnson's reluctance to rapidly escalate, Nixon cautioned that Asia's fate hinged on the outcome in Vietnam.

The French were determined to regain the empire they had ruled for more than half a century. The Michelin rubber company claimed that economic recovery from the Second World War demanded retention of Indochina. Some French officials preached its strategic importance. The main concern was restoring France's former status as a global power. Humiliated by the German conquest of their homeland and the fact that their country had to be liberated by its allies, the French had what philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called a "formidable inferiority complex". Colonies were seen as a sure path to regain the nation's former greatness.

The French were determined to regain the empire they had ruled for more than half a century. The Michelin rubber company claimed that economic recovery from the Second World War demanded retention of Indochina. Some French officials preached its strategic importance. The main concern was restoring France's former status as a global power. Humiliated by the German conquest of their homeland and the fact that their country had to be liberated by its allies, the French had what philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre called a "formidable inferiority complex". Colonies were seen as a sure path to regain the nation's former greatness.