Books mark 50th anniversary of Vietnam War

This month is the 50th anniversary of US troops arriving in Vietnam to take part in the Vietnam War. While President Lyndon Johnson hadn’t lightly made the decision to send troops to South East Asia, he had the backing of Congress due to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident.

The incident was a battle with US naval forces and North Vietnamese torpedo boats in 1964. Further, a year later the Viet Cong attacked US military advisors. It was after these incidents that Johnson decided to launch Operation Rolling Thunder.

The operation launched a three year air attack on the North Vietnamese. General Westmoreland, who was in charge of US forces in Vietnam, requested more protection for the troops on the ground and more US Marines arrived in Da Nang in 1965.

The president was confident that the US would be victorious, particularly since the Allies had won just 20 years earlier in World War Two.

Unfortunately Johnson was incorrect. The Vietnam War would go on to terminate his presidency, cause public unrest back at home in the US, and alter US foreign policy for decades to come.

Many books and accounts of the Vietnam War have been written on the monumental war.

The Long Gray Line by Rick Atkinson is an account of the US military training college, West Point, and its experiences during the Vietnam War years.

Hell in a Very Small Place by Bernard Fall recalls the French attempt to take on Vietnam 15 years prior to the US Vietnam War.

Fire in the Lake by Frances FitzGerald looks at inaccuracies and inconsistency surrounding reports on the Vietnam War and says the campaign was never going to be a success even from the very beginning.

The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam looks at the policy maker’s point of view and how they have gone on to make the same mistakes again as they did with the Vietnam War.

America’s Longest War by George Herring is an academic work looking at the historical context of the US’s involvement in Vietnam. He looks at military and political elements behind the US’s inability to win the war, The Water’s Edge reports.

Vietnam: A History by Stanley Karnow is a comprehensive history of the Vietnam War.

The Army and Vietnam by Andrew F. Krepinevich is a review of the US military’s preparations for the Vietnam War, claiming that it was unprepared for the battle since commanders were set on continuing to use World War Two era tactics which did not work in South East Asia.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE