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America's Longest War : The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster Paperback – 1 Dec 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Higher Education; 4 edition (1 Dec 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0072536187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0072536188
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 542,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Widely praised for being a brief, clear and unbiased text.
The third edition of AMERICA'S LONGEST WAR marks a significant revision. This edition seeks to update the history of US involvement in Vietnam.
New research throughout - including information retrieved from recently opened records on the war.
Illustration program has been significantly revised.
The last chapter, "The Post-War and the Legacy of Vietnam", has been substantially rewritten to take into account the dramatic changes of the past decade, analyze the influence that Vietnam continues to excerpt on Americans, and explain the persistence of conflict on the US and Vietnam.
Places the Vietnam War in historical perspective.
Most detailed coverage between the period of 1963-1973, the decade of heaviest American involvement on Vietnam. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ghostgrey51 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Originally coming out in 1979, this, by my reckoning, is the fourth print of a definitive work which tracks successive American administrations between 1950 - 1975 in thier attempts near and failures in dealing with the issue of the civil war between North and South Vietnam.
George C Herring concentrates his book on the plans and reaction of the various administrations; this approach makes for absorbing reading. Although he covers the events talking place in Vietnam, he swiftly takes the reader back to the Whitehouse to record the response. So although there are no heroes and Herring does not make excuses for anyone, American policy does become clearer; in fact in the broad sweep of history it would seem one facet Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon had in common; a wish not to become involved in Vietnam while at the same time endeavouring to impose American policy upon that land; a common historical tragedy, the only difference being the sheer scale.
The style is clear, the facts easy to follow, and the writer's conclusion straight to the point.
Recommended to anyone with an interest in the Vietnam Wars, and also those studying the history of American foreign policy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 25 reviews
80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
Herring focuses on diplomacy 26 Jan 2001
By Pete Agren - Published on Amazon.com
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.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Read the First Edition. Good, but needed North POV 31 July 2000
By L. Troy Beals - Published on Amazon.com
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A Great Account of American Grand Strategy in Vietnam 4 Feb 2007
By Andrei Bolkonski - Published on Amazon.com
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. That's true for every book of this sort, however, and for what it's worth, Herring makes a very convincing case.

On the technical side of things, this book could have done more to centralize its presentation of thematic events. Since the author shifts between historical narrative and analysis, the latter could have summaries and reminders of recurring concepts on the margins. As it is, the reader has to discover themes like "US arrogance" or "governmental deception" by himself and note their recurrence without any assistance from Herring. Doing this isn't the standard for most books, though (the only one I can think off that does this is Landmark Thucydides), I can't criticize the book for not following up on these suggestions.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
This is the best introduction to the Vietnam War. 3 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Concise, Systematic, Written Well; 4.5 stars 28 Jun 2007
By R. Albin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a concise but systematic overview and narrative of the Vietnam war. Evenhanded and drawing on a remarkably rich secondary literature, America's Longest War covers American involvement in Vietnam from the immediate post-WWII period up to the Clinton administration. This is mainly the story of American policy making and the American experience. While Herring does deal with the South Vietnamese experience, there is relatively little analysis of North Vietnamese experience and decision making. This is unavoidable due to the lack of material from North Vietnam.
Herring presents our involvment in Vietnam as the logical, though not inevitable, result of the basic containment strategy of the Cold War. He describes very well the gradual entanglement in Vietnam across multiple Presidential administrations, culminating in Johnson's decision to commit major numbers of American ground troops. Herring does very well also in describing the diplomatic history and its interaction with domestic American politics. He does quite well at the basic political history of South Vietnam and provides a nice overview of the basic military history.
Herring's basic point is that the containment logic formed the lens through information about Vietnam was seen. The containment logic was essentially universally accepted in the USA and even became a crucial part of domestic politics. There were very few efforts, made usually by a small number of people and generally rebuffed, to critically examine the idea that deterring a Communist takeover in South Vietnam was really essential to American security. In Herring's presentation, our involvement in Vietnam takes on a tragic dimension.
Its impossible to read this book today and avoid comparisons with the Iraq morass. Indeed, its striking how often the Vietnam experience resonates with our contemporary problems. For example, here is Herring discussing American efforts at pacification in the mid-1960s, "The fundamental problem was the absence of security.' Or how about, "Members of Congress found it impossible to vote against fund for American forces in the field and hesitated to challenge the President directly, but many who has firmly backed him at first came out openly against him." I was surprised at how often aspects of the Vietnam experience have emerged in Iraq.
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