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Why the North Won the Vietnam War Paperback – 19 Sep 2002


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Review

'The well-written scholarly essays in this collection concentrate on what North Vietnam did right.' - M. O'Donnell, Choice

'...a fine and well-written study particularly suited for undergraduate and graduate student instruction.' - Erik B. Villard, Journal of Military History

'...offer[s] a good deal of fresh thinking about the war...' - Ruud van Dijk, H-World H-Net Reviews

About the Author

MARC JASON GILBERT is Professor of History at North Georgia College and State University. A specialist in the history of modern Vietnam and modern South and Southeast Asia, he has written and edited several books on the Vietnam War, including The Vietnam War: Teaching Approaches and Resources (1991), The TET Offensive (1996), and The Vietnam War on Campus: Other Voices, More Distant Drums (2000). He is also co-author and co-producer of the award-winning documentary Lost Warriors, an examination of the plight of homeless Vietnam veterans.

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Why did the communists win the Vietnam War? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 8 reviews
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but not totally convincing 9 May 2005
By Dimitrios - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some of the best American analysts contribute a number of essays on the reasons behind the US defeat in Vietnam, destroying many myths that have persisted through the years. The focus of the book is on the strategic level of the war, thus the reader will find only a few remarks about the actual military operations. It is very useful though as food for thought and gives interesting interpretations regarding some crucial decisions taken during the war. The diplomatic maneuvers of Hanoi are very well presented as are the numerous sources which prove that the top US military leadership was perhaps more responsible for losing the war than its political masters. The book gave me also some remarkable information about the reasons for which the US fought the Vietnam War without strong support from its traditional allies, why the military was prevented from striking North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia even when it was obvious that the communists used these countries as sanctuaries, what was the role of intelligence gathering, the economics of the conflict and the true influence of the anti-war movement. The main conclusion of the book is that Hanoi would probably have won the war no matter what the USA would have done and no matter how well its military had fought. "What emerges with great clarity from the chapters is that the Vietnam War was really many wars, but only one that finally counted for the Vietnamese. Its victims were primarily the Vietnamese, and its victors were the Vietnamese. Fifty years on, historians will look at the Cold War and wonder why the Americans did not understand better the folly of their attempt at nation - building. Vietnamese infiltrators into the Saigon regime's innermost councils escaped detection, while the countryside was ruled by the enemy whenever there was not the actual presence of American troops. The reality of Vietnam War was as elusive to American policymaker as the enemy forces were to the men they sent to this hall of mirrors. They saw only their own reflections multiplied over and over".

If that was so, then we must accept that the Vietnamese kind of war has really no antidote until today and that the combination of nationalism and fanaticism (with a clever and asymmetrical application of brute force) can prevail over democracy and freedom, which is a bad omen for the current US engagement in Iraq. I don't believe that Hanoi would have won the war in any case, nor that it could sustain casualties forever and I think that the main reason for the US defeat was rather the prevailing view that no real American interests were at stake over there, at that particular period.
20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, Provocative Examination Of Vietnam War! 6 Jan. 2004
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It is a commonplace observation that history is interpreted and written by the victors. In this case however, it seems to have been the vanquished, i.e., the United States and the western world, which has succeeded in predominantly defining the nature of the conflict in Vietnam and its environs, including Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. With the special hubris and arrogance of the young ascending American academic establishment and its struggle to redefine the world in terms less dystonic to its neo-conservative worldview, we have suggested seemingly endless theories relating to how it is that "we" actively lost the war through incompetence, treachery, or misunderstanding, without ever seriously considering the quite formidable nature of the foe, and what the opposite side did to win the same conflict. Herein this imbalance is corrected, with thoughtful essays offered by nine noted scholars with convincing credentials regarding the war in Southeast Asia.
The several essays succeed marvelously in exploring the myriad of ways in which the Vietnamese actively prosecuted a multifaceted campaign against their American antagonists and ultimately defeated them, both on the battlefield, but much more critically, in terms of the revolutionary political struggle which was central to final success in transforming the country and uniting the people under a single flag. In so doing, they put the lie to such conventional wisdom as has gathered momentum in the last decade or so here in this country through the active if somewhat disingenuous ministrations of a bevy of enthusiastically neo-conservative authors who have redefined Vietnam as a so-called "necessary war".
This volume is masterfully edited by Professor Marc Jason Gilbert. Gilbert, a history professor, has managed to gather together an impressive collection of pertinent essays by such noted authors as Jeffrey Record, John Prados, William Duiker, and George Herring, among others. The essays cover a broad array of issues and concerns relating to the conduct of the war, and include discussions of elements such as foreign and domestic policy here in the United States, employment of military tactics, long term strategy of both sides, and the many ways in which the Vietnamese opposition laid the groundwork for the seemingly sudden collapse of the South Vietnamese capital in 1975. It also includes provocative examination of our intelligence failures on the ground in Vietnam, our misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for the nature of the civil war that underlay the whole conflict, and the ways in which our defeat would reverberate through our system of international relations. This is a wonderful book, and one I would recommend for use in an introductory class for undergraduates for both a balanced and fresh look at one of the most troubling military involvements of the U.S. military in the last century. Enjoy!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A fairly accurate portrayal 20 April 2012
By Ordinary citizen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have been working in Vietnam for over ten years, have friends who were in the U.S. military, Vietnamese friends from the North, and from the South. I have heard all sides to the story, and seen many attempts at revisionism for political purposes. This book avoids these pitfalls. Be warned, this is a scholarly analysis, it is not intended as reading entertainment. It documents its theses with historical data. If you have an interest in deeply understanding this war, this is an excellent book. If you are interested in being entertained, this book is not for you.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An Unnessary Dry Read 8 Dec. 2011
By A. LaPlant - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you enjoy statistical data against a backdrop of geographical data and political wrangling you will certainly enjoy this book. It is disconnected, difficult to stay interested in, and impossible to follow without a schematic illustration. I had the misfortune to sit in on a lecture by the author; he seemed as bored as I was. There are much better books available that give the same information and that are more readable. If you have completed all those other books, then by all means read this one! It was written for you.
5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Interested in how to be defeated in war? Then read this book! 13 Aug. 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For starters, the other two reviews of this book were very good and accurate.

I found this book particularly compelling. It was easy reading, and interesting in at almost all points (with the exception of the last chapters which covered how the American Peace Movement brought the war to a halt, I found this chapter to be very boring and not well written at all).

Reading this book, you will come to a very clear understanding of almost all of the reasons the U.S. failed to defeat an enemy which it vastly outnumbered and outgunned.
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