Synopses & Reviews
The Hill and Wang Critical Issues Series: concise, affordable works on pivotal topics in American history, society, and politics.
Using newly available documents from both American and Vietnamese archives, Hunt reinterprets the values, choices, misconceptions, and miscalculations that shaped the long process of American intervention in Southeast Asia, and renders more comprehensible--if no less troubling--the tangled origins of the war.
"A readable and penetrating account of America's tragic experience in Vietnam by one of the nation's leading diplomatic historians. Hunt brings to this account the insights of a specialist in both American and East Asian history--a combination few can match."--Michael J. Hogan, Ohio State University
"Elegant and achingly sad. This brilliant primer on the war in Vietnam is a powerful indictment of American arrogance and paternalism. Hunt engages in no diatribes, delivers no cheap shots, assigns no blame easily. Instead, by treating the Vietnamese side of the story with sensitivity and depth, he exposes the fundamental ethnocentrism of the American war planners and of traditional accounts of the war."--Piero Gleijeses, The Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies
"A tragic tale, told by a talent, full of sound and fury, and signifying quite a lot. In addition to providing a skillful and engaging account of the long escalation, though in mercifully short compass, Hunt draws attention to the right lessons."--Foreign Affairs
"Immensely valuable. Like the war itself, it 'offers no easy answers--and no simple moral judgments.'"--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
The Vietnam War, perhaps the mast controversial war Americans have ever fought, remains a source of pain and perplexity. Why did Lyndon Johnson commit the United States to fight? Why did he fail to act more decisively once he resolved on war? And why didn't he take the American public into his confidence? These questions have troubled historians since the end of the war, but the answers have been buried in inaccessible documents. Now Michael H. Hunt uses newly available sources from both American and Vietnamese archives to reevaluate how and why the war started and then escalated. He examines the ideological, strategic, political, and institutional pressures that in the 1950s propelled the Truman and Eisenhower administrations toward intervention in Indochina; the reasons why Kennedy's and Johnson's policymakers believed that a limited war could be fought there; Johnson's early position on Vietnam and his decision to intensify U.S. involvement in the war; and, finally, the tragic consequences of the Vietnam War both at home and abroad. Throughout, he discusses the values, choices, misconceptions, and miscalculations that shaped the long process of American intervention, thus rendering more comprehensible - if no less troubling - the tangled origins of the Vietnam War.
About the Author
Michael H. Hunt
, Everett H. Emerson Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is a leading scholar of U.S.-East Asian relations. Among his many books are Crises in U.S. Foreign Policy: An International History Reader
and The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy