America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition), by George C. Herring

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America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition), by George C. Herring

America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition), by George C. Herring

America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition), by George C. Herring

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America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 with Poster (4th Edition), by George C. Herring

Comprehensive yet concise, America’s Longest War provides a complete and balanced history of the Vietnam War. It is not mainly a military history, but seeks to integrate military, diplomatic, and political factors in order to clarify America’s involvement and ultimate failure in Vietnam. While it focuses on the American side of the equation, it provides sufficient consideration of the Vietnamese side to make the events comprehensible.

  • Sales Rank: #149517 in Books
  • Published on: 2001-11-15
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.50″ h x .70″ w x 5.20″ l, 1.00 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 384 pages

About the Author
George C. Herring is Alumni Professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He received his Ph.D. in History from the University of Virginia and taught at Ohio University before moving to the University of Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, articles, and essays, including The Secret Diplomacy of the Vietnam War: The Negotiating Volumes of the Pentagon Papers (1983) and LBJ and Vietnam: A Different Kind of War (1994). He served as editor of the scholarly journal Diplomatic History from 1982 to 1986 and was President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations in 1990. In 1991, he served as Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand and from 1993 to 1994, he was Visiting Professor of History at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point.

Most helpful customer reviews

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
The Best Vietnam War History in a Small Size
By A Customer
This history by Vietnam War expert Herring is by far the best general history of that war in a small, manageable size. It’s suitable for both general readers and classroom use. As a bonus, the annotated bibliography is a terrific standalone resource, a wonderful guide for further study.

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful.
A Great Account of American Grand Strategy in Vietnam
By Andrei Bolkonski
Like many people here, I read this book for a college class concerned with providing an explanation of the numerous questions that arise whenever one ponders America in Vietnam, like why it was there, and why it lost. Any student or curious reader should find this work a great tool for this task.

The book is fairly short, numbering less than 400 pages. By that restraint alone, no reader should expect a thorough, voluminous exposition on every aspect of the war akin to Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, or a textbook for that matter. It’s a piece on political history with a general thesis, numerous recurring themes, and plenty of information to back everything up.

The thesis is that the containment strategy America adopted around the Korean War, and its perceiving Vietnam as a strategic door to all of Southeast Asia, prevented each successive president from leaving Vietnam to the wolves and forced each one to progressively raise American stakes n the region. Numerous other variables–some consistent to all presidencies, like fear of facing the same political bloodletting as Truman got over “losing” China in 1949; some specific to the president, like JFK’s need to take a stand somewhere after negotiating on Laos, and after the Berlin wall was erected–accompanied this grand one, but the central theme of this book draws a vivid picture of proud Cold Warriors refusing to back down and unwilling to commit entirely, hoping to bluff out an enemy who had already gone all in.

Of course, because it is a work with a point to prove rather than a huge collection of unfiltered facts, the reader must be wary of buying into Herring’s perspective without private review of his logic. That’s true for every book of this sort, however, and for what it’s worth, Herring makes a very convincing case.

On the technical side of things, this book could have done more to centralize its presentation of thematic events. Since the author shifts between historical narrative and analysis, the latter could have summaries and reminders of recurring concepts on the margins. As it is, the reader has to discover themes like “US arrogance” or “governmental deception” by himself and note their recurrence without any assistance from Herring. Doing this isn’t the standard for most books, though (the only one I can think off that does this is Landmark Thucydides), I can’t criticize the book for not following up on these suggestions.

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful.
Concise, Systematic, Written Well; 4.5 stars
By R. Albin
This is a concise but systematic overview and narrative of the Vietnam war. Evenhanded and drawing on a remarkably rich secondary literature, America’s Longest War covers American involvement in Vietnam from the immediate post-WWII period up to the Clinton administration. This is mainly the story of American policy making and the American experience. While Herring does deal with the South Vietnamese experience, there is relatively little analysis of North Vietnamese experience and decision making. This is unavoidable due to the lack of material from North Vietnam.
Herring presents our involvment in Vietnam as the logical, though not inevitable, result of the basic containment strategy of the Cold War. He describes very well the gradual entanglement in Vietnam across multiple Presidential administrations, culminating in Johnson’s decision to commit major numbers of American ground troops. Herring does very well also in describing the diplomatic history and its interaction with domestic American politics. He does quite well at the basic political history of South Vietnam and provides a nice overview of the basic military history.
Herring’s basic point is that the containment logic formed the lens through information about Vietnam was seen. The containment logic was essentially universally accepted in the USA and even became a crucial part of domestic politics. There were very few efforts, made usually by a small number of people and generally rebuffed, to critically examine the idea that deterring a Communist takeover in South Vietnam was really essential to American security. In Herring’s presentation, our involvement in Vietnam takes on a tragic dimension.
Its impossible to read this book today and avoid comparisons with the Iraq morass. Indeed, its striking how often the Vietnam experience resonates with our contemporary problems. For example, here is Herring discussing American efforts at pacification in the mid-1960s, “The fundamental problem was the absence of security.’ Or how about, “Members of Congress found it impossible to vote against fund for American forces in the field and hesitated to challenge the President directly, but many who has firmly backed him at first came out openly against him.” I was surprised at how often aspects of the Vietnam experience have emerged in Iraq.

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