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Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975 [Paperback]

By A. J. Langguth (Author)
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Item description for Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975 by A. J. Langguth...

Presents the Vietnam War as a series of missteps, misunderstandings, and mistakes by leaders including Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and the heads of the CIA, and explains the origins of those errors.

Publishers Description
Winner of the Overseas Press Club's Cornelius J. Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book, the Commonwealth Club of California's Gold Medal for Nonfiction, and the PEN Center West Award for Best Research Nonfiction
Twenty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, historian and journalist A. J. Langguth delivers an authoritative account of the war based on official documents not available earlier and on new reporting from both the American and Vietnamese perspectives. In "Our Vietnam, " Langguth takes us inside the waffling and deceitful White Houses of Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon; documents the ineptness and corruption of our South Vietnamese allies; and recounts the bravery of soldiers on both sides of the war. With its broad sweep and keen insights, "Our Vietnam" brings together the kaleidoscopic events and personalities of the war into one engrossing and unforgettable narrative.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975 by A. J. Langguth has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 1190
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 942

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Simon & Schuster
Pages   768
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.82" Width: 6.64" Height: 1.34"
Weight:   2.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 12, 2002
Publisher   Simon & Schuster
ISBN  0743212312  
ISBN13  9780743212311  

Availability  3 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 01:08.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About A. J. Langguth

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! A. J. Langguth is the author of almost a dozen books, including "Union 1812"; "Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution"; and "Our Vietnam: The War, 1954-1975."
Grover Gardner has narrated over 650 audiobooks, been named one of the Best Voices of the Century by "AudioFile" magazine, and has received over twenty "AudioFile" Earphones Awards, as well as two coveted Audie Awards.

A. J. Langguth currently resides in Los Angeles, in the state of California. A. J. Langguth was born in 1933.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Asia > Vietnam > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > Vietnam War

Reviews - What do customers think about Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975?

Masterful Exploration Of Origins & Progress Of Vietnam War!  Jul 14, 2003
One can now add this interesting and informative book to the growing list of recent tomes adding to our understanding of how we can so inextricably drawn into the unfortunate miasma called Vietnam. Certainly, according to able historian A. J. Langguth, there is more than enough culpability in the stream of administrations stretching back as far as the Eisenhower years to add to the coals on the slowly spreading conflagration it eventually became. According to the author, there is little doubt that the Vietnam War wound up being the single most divisive war since the Civil war more than 100 years before. The reasons it split the country into two angry and warring camps were related to its very causes, namely the arrogance and hubris of the WWII generation of those believing in their un power and invulnerability, the so called "best and brightest" that David Halberstam described so beautifully in his book of the same name.

Langguth employs a treasure-trove of new material to examine the way sin which the various administrations made decisions leading us along the deceptive path that led to ever deeper and deeper involvement in Vietnam. And although Eisenhower had warned about the dangers of relying on the wisdom and purposes of the rising clique of the "military-industrial'' complex, he made decisions that facilitated the further extension of policy into Vietnam by the young and relatively unwary president who followed him. Yet it was through Kennedy's reliance on old cold warriors for advice and counsel that led him into a deepening commitment. Indeed, increasingly Kennedy fell under the charismatic influence of defense Secretary Robert McNamara charismatic appeals to escalate the conflict, using euphemistic ideas such as like statistical control and other cost-benefit analysis techniques to seemingly rationalize the process of making decisions into a business decision mentality, rather than recognizing it was men's lives and deaths they were discussing. In such a way, the movement down the path toward ever greater engagement in Vietnam can be viewed as a series of series of tragic mistakes, a series of decision points involving misinterpretations of what was happening and what it meant.

Of course, later in the war, a number of mistakes were made as the domestic political considerations in terms of the associated political advantage or liability of any particular military decision added further complications to the decision making process. Finally, attempts to win the war through the use of propaganda and manipulation of the facts released to the American public disregarded the evidence in favor of further distortions. This had the terrible and politically indefensible policy of leaving the American soldiers at risk in order to gain political advantage both across the negotiating table with the Hanoi regime as well as lying about the conduct and progress of the war to the American public. In essence, the political superstructure here at home became more and more concerned with the self-contained political universe they operated in, and more and more oblivious to the realities of the situation on the ground for American forces in Vietnam. Indeed, they often seemed to being engaging in a willful denial of the basic realities of the military situation and the cultural facts of life in South Vietnam.

This is a very carefully written and quite comprehensive book, one in which the author clearly demonstrates a true appreciation for the unintended consequence and irony of the war. This is easily the best of a spate of recent books published on the subject, and ranks favorably on the same shelf as Stanley Karnow's masterful presentation of the war's overall history in "Vietnam: A History". It also shares an appreciation for the complexities of the war and the ways in which our descent into the madness was triggered by the arrogance, stupidity, and callousness of American politicians. In this sense it share s the perspective of two other fairly recent books, "American Tragedy" by David Kaiser, and "Choosing War" by Frederik Logevall.

Power and failure  May 27, 2003
This work shows exactly how the United states gradually became involved in Vietnam from the details on up. Other reviews have commented on Langguth's objectivity and accuracy. I will mention the most lasting impression this book left on me:
Most of us have the perception that the great men of power throughout history are made of something different from ourselves. We only see them on the world's stage, made up and prepared; speeches rehearsed; ceremony and station lending gravity to their every word and action. We don't think of them sleepless; with a bit of popcorn stuck in their teeth; complaining to their wives; or any of the other everyday situations that even these men of power experience. And so we assume their minds are always bent to grand designs. We think they hold a certain wisdom that lets them maneuver through politics and war, making decisions based on facts or morality.
Langguth's tale tells a different story. Decisions that cost tens of thousands of lives and reshape the world are made by men as sweaty and itchy as you and I. Wars are started because of ego, petty squabbles, and job security. Elections! How many have died so that one man could keep his job? So we see Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon, and all the well-dressed men around them, chewing their lips and eyeing one and other with mistrust, stabbing one and other in the back, lying and cheating, making mistakes.
Wars are started all because we make the mistake of investing such power in mere humans.
50000 Americans, a couple of million Vietnamese  Aug 27, 2002
Vietnam has been covered extensively in the contemporary press - so a bit of perspective is always useful. While Langguth is no historian, he has mapped the territory with diligence, and this volume needs to be considered as a journalistic tour-de-force. Langguth makes no apology for the subsequent behaviour of the Vietnamese regime post-1975. Any discussion on the history of Vietnam until April 1975 should not be confused with the post-1975 phase. Having said all this....

The book is great - the overall feeling is one of dismay and betrayal when you look at the course of events outlined by Langguth. As the author concludes, the American leadership let down both the Vietnamese people and the American people. Re-election politics governed the behaviour of Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon - both in terms of ignoring the reality on the ground as well as in terms of committing American air and ground forces. The latter had the effect of taking American lives, which is when the war became truly unpopular (and took thousands of Vietnamese lives). People like George Ball and McGeorge Bundy came around to the view that the war had no merits or interest for America early on, and there was no way they could express these views without losing the ear of the President they served.

I have read quite a bit of Kissinger, and for someone who has a lot of respect for Kissinger, Langguth's views on him come as a surprise. The view that emerges is that Kissinger essentially implemented the starting point of the negotiations arrived at by Harriman and Le Duc Tho in 1968 under Johnson. This is where the dismay comes in - five years later, the end-result was the same, and Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Langguth's representation of decisionmaking at the highest levels in the US makes for fascinating reading. The style of decision-making is collegial or chaotic depending on the president, and the impact of the president's style on the process comes out very well. Kennedy's youthful style and intellect, Johnson's homespun political smarts, and Nixon's insecure and paranoid approach - have their impact on the outcome and this is accentuated by the author. Johnson's earthy humour makes you laugh.. The internecine politicking between the members of the Cabinet would be useful education for any student of American politics. It would help understand why a man like Colin Powell continues to serve an admininstration that clearly has little time for him.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject.

One-sided  Aug 13, 2002
The author gives both the US and the South Vietnamese establishments severe slappings for their respective roles in this grim war.

However, he fails to give the North Vietnamese establishment what would probably be an even more well-deserved kick up the backside for its role.

In the end, this work, which is otherwise most impressive in its scope, detail and narrative, leaves you with the uncomfortable feeling that you have heard only half the story.

uncomfortable  Aug 12, 2002
I am no master of the detail with which the book deals and cannot comment on the accuracy of some of the criticism that has been levelled at the book and its author.

It is an utterly compelling read and fascinating in its detail but I had an uncomfortable feeling all the way through that the author was not being even-handed in his treatment of all the participants in that grim war. While Langluth was prepared to lay into the behaviour of the US and South Vietnamese he was very seldom critical of the North Vietnamese. This, in my view as a dispassionmate reader, raises a huge question over his impartiality and, ultimately, the truth of his story.


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