Friday, May 19, 2023

Fifteen of the best books on the Vietnam war

George Black is the author of The Long Reckoning: A Story of War, Peace, and Redemption in Vietnam.

At LitHub he tagged six "foundational books" on the “Vietnam War,” then tagged a few more that "had an especially profound impact on my thinking as I wrote The Long Reckoning. One title on the list:
Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam by Lien-Hang T. Nguyen

For decades, as the United States struggled with the trauma of its first-ever defeat in a foreign war and the shattering of long-held illusions about the nation’s unique combination of strength and virtue, historians concentrated on one central question: Why did we lose? But this began to change as the Cold War ended and Vietnam, the former Soviet Union, and other formerly Communist nations began to open their long-sealed archives. With this, it became possible to address the corollary question: Why did they win?

Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American scholar at Columbia University, goes further than anyone in answering that question, and in the process dispels much of our received wisdom about the war. Her analysis of the internal divisions in Hanoi makes it clear that it was not Ho Chi Minh but his hardline rival Le Duan who was the main architect of the war effort. And her insights into Hanoi’s diplomacy makes equally clear the skill with which it managed to navigate the Sino-Soviet split, securing aid from both of the great Communist powers but always maintaining its strategic independence.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue