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Vietnam: A History (1983)

by Stanley Karnow

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2,323166,691 (4.06)45
Examines American involvement in the Vietnam War, delves into the decisionmaking process in Washington and Asia, and presents interviews with participants on both sides.

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English (15)  Italian (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Three major chroniclers of the Vietnam War served as journalists in Vietnam during the period of the war. David Halberstam is the most ideological engaged. Neil Sheehan is the most detailed from the perspective of the officers and men fighting the war. and Stanley Karnow is the most comprehensive. Karnow provides a survey of Vietnamese history and the arrival of the French, which serves as a serviceable context for the introduction of American soldiers and politicians into the area in the 1950s and 1960s.

For the most part, this is a balanced and fair book. Karnow dissects the American failures, especially by the upper echelon, Johnson, Rostow, Acheson, Westmoreland, and later Nixon and Kissinger. Again, he is fair, albeit deservedly critical, particularly of Johnson, whose dithering, indecisiveness, and utter incapability of understanding a foreign culture locked the US into taking one misstep after another.

On the other hand, Karnow is weakest in his discussion of the North Vietnamese Communist leadership. His history of Ho Chi Minh's is concise and accurate. But he doesn't give full enough credit to Le Duan's leadership role, especially early on in the 1960s, when Ho was consigned to the position of a figurehead. In his favor, Karnow does treat Communist attestations with the skepticism they deserve (unlike Sheehan, who is often apt to take their word at full value). And his post war interviews of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong veterans gives good insight not only into their motivations but also their inherent differences and distrust of each other, especially among Viet Cong (NLF) veterans native to the south.

In short, read Karnow for a comprehensive history of Vietnam as well as the best understanding of American political maneuvering during the war. Read Sheehan for a detailed picture through the eyes of the men who fought the war at ground level. ( )
  PaulCornelius | Apr 12, 2020 |
Very good for the lead up to the war and the history of Vietnam, sets the context of the war nicely. However in a 600 page book less than 200 pages are on the period after 1965. It is solid when it comes to political and diplomatic efforts, but next to nothing on the actual fighting. The author does a good job of looking at the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese (too often ignored) and the Americans and their viewpoints. ( )
  bookmarkaussie | Jul 31, 2018 |
5209. Vietnam A History, by Stanley Karnow (read 16 Oct 2014) This book was published in 1983 and is a full history of Vietnam from 1945 to April 1975, when the government we spent so many millions propping up fell. It is a sad story and while my reading was admiratory of the way Karnow tells the story it is a dolorous story, with no American president coming out as a farseeing and wise man. Sometimes the account is not organized as well as one would want, with the story dropping back and forth. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Oct 16, 2014 |
phenomenal, detailed, intelligent, considered, and mostly unbiased history of the country and war
  FKarr | May 19, 2013 |
Audio product here.

A rather lengthy and dense history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war. While generally chronological, there are a number of points where this is not strictly adhered to. Karnow's narrative is methodical and not stylish; on the plus side, he incorporates quotes from numerous interviews with politicians, U.S. and Vietnamese military personnel, and others.

Others' reviews are generally positive, but some fault Karnow's scholarship or perspective. I can't evaluate the legitimacy of these concerns, but can say that in relation to other histories and memoirs, Karnow appears to do a good job of representing Vietnamese as well as American accounts.

Two deficits associated with the audiobook are the obvious omission of Karnow's many photographs and the reader's frequent mispronunciations (e.g., NEE-po-tism).

Read with [b:Born on the Fourth of July|33613|Born on the Fourth of July|Ron Kovic|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1168455139s/33613.jpg|33666] and [i:]A Viet Cong Memoir: An Inside Account of the Vietnam War and Its Aftermath[/i:] or other memoirs with a military emphasis. ( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
"The most comprehensive, up-to-date and balanced account we have of the Vietnam War."
added by GYKM | editBoston Globe, Fox Butterfield
"First-rate as a popular contribution to understanding the war."
added by GYKM | editNew York Times Book Review, Douglas Pike
"This is history writing at its best."
added by GYKM | editChicago Sun-Times
"A landmark work. Exceptionally well researched and well written, it is the most complete account to date of the Vietnam tragedy."
added by GYKM | editWashington Post Book World, Harry G. Summers
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Wikipedia in English (70)

1955 in the Vietnam War

1960 South Vietnamese coup attempt

1962 in the Vietnam War

1962 South Vietnamese Independence Palace bombing

1963 South Vietnamese coup

1964 Brinks Hotel bombing

Dương Quỳnh Hoa

Dương Văn Đức

History of Vietnam since 1945

Huế chemical attacks

Huế Phật Đản shootings

Krulak Mendenhall mission

Outline of the Vietnam War

Phan Đình Phùng

Phan Xích Long

Phạm Ngọc Thảo


Religion in Vietnam

Examines American involvement in the Vietnam War, delves into the decisionmaking process in Washington and Asia, and presents interviews with participants on both sides.

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