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Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and…
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Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN

by Andrew Wiest

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Vietnam’s Forgotten Army is both a history of the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and a biography of two of its most distinguished junior officers, Pham Van Dinh and Tran Ngoc Hue. One was captured on the battlefield and spent thirteen years in captivity; the other surrendered his unit and defected to the North Vietnamese Army. Combat, fate and regret have scarred them both in surprising ways.

The author deftly explains the formation of the ARVN and its tutelage under the United States Army, a course of education so focused on the firepower, logistics and technology of “big unit” war that it would tragically lead to the ARVN’s eventual demise and the downfall of South Vietnam. The structural flaws or the ARVN, the weaknesses of the US advisory system and the complexities and ambiguities of the war are well-explained. His descriptions & analysis of several key campaigns – the Battle of Hue and Lam Son 719 in particular – are wonderfully clear and insightful and match the quality of work produced by war correspondents such as Bernard Fall and David Halberstam.

Vietnam’s Forgotten Army documents how, contrary to popular perception, many ARVN units fought with courage and skill, an observation missing from most US-centric accounts of the Indochina conflict. In fact, the self-absorption of the US Army in Vietnam and its subsequent spillover into popular American history becomes a major theme in the book. The disdain of the US Marine commanders for the ARVN, despite the bravery of the 2nd Battalion/3 ARVN Regiment at the battle for the Hue Citadel, is disturbing. The fact that US Army commanders orders this same unit off the crest of Hamburger Hill so that American troops of the 101st Airborne could officially “take it” is shameful and illustrates one of the fundamental disconnects of America’s involvement in the conflict.

I would highly recommend this book to any military history student interested in learning more about the failures and the forgotten heroism of the ARVN. History isn’t always written by the victors, and we are fortunate Wiest has written such a moving account of an army that lost not only a war but its very nation. ( )
  madcatnip72 | Sep 23, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0814794106, Hardcover)

2009 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award for Biography

Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN chronicles the lives of Pham Van Dinh and Tran Ngoc Hue, two of the brightest young stars in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Both men fought with valor in a war that seemed to have no end, exemplifying ARVN bravery and determination that is largely forgotten or ignored in the West. However, while Hue fought until he was captured by the North Vietnamese Army and then endured thirteen years of captivity, Dinh surrendered and defected to the enemy, for whom he served as a teacher in the reeducation of his former ARVN comrades.

An understanding of how two lives that were so similar diverged so dramatically provides a lens through which to understand the ARVN and South Vietnam’s complex relationship with Americas government and military. The lives of Dinh and Hue reflect the ARVNs battlefield successes, from the recapture of the Citadel in Hue City in the Tet Offensive of 1968, to Dinhs unheralded role in the seizure of Hamburger Hill a year later. However, their careers expose an ARVN that was over-politicized, tactically flawed, and dependent on American logistical and firepower support. Marginalized within an American war, ARVN faced a grim fate as U.S. forces began to exit the conflict. As the structure of the ARVN/U.S. alliance unraveled, Dinh and Hue were left alone to make the most difficult decisions of their lives.

Andrew Wiest weaves historical analysis with a compelling narrative, culled from extensive interviews with Dinh, Hue, and other key figures. Once both military superstars, Dinh is viewed by a traitor by many within the South Vietnamese community, while Hue, an expatriate living in northern Virginia, is seen as a hero who never let go of his ideals. Their experiences and legacies mirror that of the ARVNs rise and fall as well as the tragic history of South Vietnam.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:18 -0400)

"Vietnam's Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN chronicles the lives of Pham Van Dinh and Tran Ngoc Hue, two of the brightest young stars in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Both men fought with valor in a war that seemed to have no end, exemplifying ARVN bravery and determination that is largely forgotten or ignored in the West. However, while Hue fought for South Vietnam until he was captured by the North Vietnamese Army and then endured thirteen years of captivity, Dinh surrendered and defected to the enemy, for whom he served as a teacher in the reeducation of many of his former ARVN comrades." "An understanding of how two lives that were so similar diverged so dramatically helps us understand the ARVN and South Vietnam's complex relationship with America's government and military. The lives of Dinh and Hue reflect the ARVN's battlefield successes, yet at the same time expose an army that was over-politicized, tactically flawed, and dependent on American logistical and firepower support. Marginalized within an American war, ARVN faced a grim fate as U.S. forces began to exit the conflict, and Dinh and Hue were left alone to make the most difficult decisions of their lives." "Andrew Wiest weaves historical analysis with a compelling narrative, showing how Dinh's and Hue's experiences and legacies mirror that of the ARVN's rise and fall as well as the tragic history of South Vietnam."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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