Book Review of Vietnam A History in

Why I Picked This Book?

Most of us have heard about the Vietnam War and I am sure we all have at some point or other watched Hollywood movies which has a reference to Vietnam War. I fall in the above category, I have heard about it and seen movies about it, but beyond that I had no knowledge about what the war about was? why did it happen? How America got involved? What exactly happened in the War? And many such other questions. Vietnam War was a tragic but important historical event of southeast Asia and I enjoy reading history, so I picked this book up to know about the Vietnam War.

The Book

The book is written by Stanley Karnow, a journalist, and a historian, who worked from Asia during the War and visited Vietnam on many occasions. The author tells in detail about the genesis of the Vietnam War by giving the readers a brief history of Vietnam and their political system and the different dynasties that ruled Vietnam. The constant fights with Chinese over the years and as a result a sense of Nationalism among the Vietnamese people. The French colonization of Vietnam and their rule over Vietnam for around six decades and the French Indochina war which started in 1946 and ended in defeat for France in 1954 and they were defeated by the Viet Minh forces. All this is captured in detail by the author.

After the French defeat the bifurcation of Vietnam into North and South, which was not acceptable to the North Vietnamese people and they opposed it under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. There is a detailed account of how at this juncture America entered in southeast and in South Vietnam to help them form a government (ostensibly), though the main purpose was to keep the communist in North Vietnam led by Ho Chin Minh to come to power in Vietnam. And for only this reason the Americans not spent billions of dollars to support the South Vietnamese government but also sent their troops to Vietnam (ostensibly to train the South Vietnamese forces).  The author gives the readers a detailed and non-partial account of the war that went on for two decades resulting in nothing. “The War Nobody Won” as the author starts his book with this chapter elucidating in detail about it.

The Book is a delight to read for all the history enthusiast as it dwells in detail not only about the actual war on the ground, but it also dissects the policies of various US government during the war period about the war. Why despite achieving nothing on ground the war continued for over two decades. How domestic politics played a major role in the continuation of the war despite some war critics advising against it. How the decision on the war was influenced by the domestic politics and international politics, where America did not want to give the impression that it has lost the war. The ego that America is a superpower, and we control the major events around the globe made it difficult for the American government to take a rational decision, which in turn kept the war going on for so long.

An exhaustive and detailed account of the war, a must read for everyone who think we know something about the war and for that matter for anyone who wants to know about the Vietnam war.

About the Author

Stanley Karnow (1925-2013) is the author of, among other books, the bestselling Vietnam: A History and the Pulitzer Prize-winning In Our Image: America and the Philippines.

Our Verdict

A must read for anyone and everyone who love reading history and wants to know in detail about a tragic but important event of our history. It is a long read with lot of details but again if you read to to know more, this is one definitive book on the Vietnam War. To get your own copy please click on the link below.

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