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Old 08-05-2019, 11:35 PM
 
Location: Tyler, TX
714 posts, read 631,300 times
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I wish someone could get my Pa to write one. I damn sure can’t.
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Old 08-06-2019, 06:12 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,673 posts, read 18,736,654 times
Reputation: 18867
Quote:
Originally Posted by grad_student200 View Post

I read so many books that I had thought watching the video series by Ken Burns would be a good complementary resource. But it was too depressing. I know so much of the "dark details" of that war that I just couldn't keep watching it.
I have not seen the documentary, just read the companion book. The book contains a great deal more information and specifics than does the documentary.

I generally do not watch many documentaries because I see them as providing in an hour, the same amount of information one could get in five or ten minutes of reading. They are an inefficient way to learn. Further, documentaries must have something visual to accompany the narrative, and documentary content gets shaped to meet this need. What is vital and what is not becomes secondary to what is available for the visual presentation.
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:14 AM
 
774 posts, read 212,714 times
Reputation: 1988
Quote:
Originally Posted by TRlaura View Post
Please go easy on me as I love history but I in no way have the caliber of knowledge as most of the posters in this forum.


My father was in the Vietnam war from 1969 to 1971 and I would like to start learning more about this conflict. Can anyone recommend a good comprehensive book for me to get my feet wet with? I read The Battle Cry of Freedom that someone recommended on here for Civil War history that I loved, so I was hoping for something along that line.
One of the book sent to me by a friend whose memories were featured in the book ( he fought in Vietnam) is by an author Frank Grzyb “Touched by the dragon”. Excellent.

For the whole concept of Vietnam involvement: politics, military, the attitudes of the stateside people and abroad- watch a multipart Ken Burns documentary for a fantastic documentary footage.

The book mentioned above brings home the point of view, fears, dreams, emotions of everyday life of the people on the ground. Very humbling to read. It is local to Rhode Island veterans, but it does not matter- extremely enlightening because a lot of people I know who were there- just don’t talk about it at all.
Not at all what I expected to find...
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Houston, TX
14,788 posts, read 8,616,437 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
A few suggestions here on your selection:

1.) Pick your book carefully because there are still many biased volumes out there on the Vietnam War written by those with an agenda - lots of social commentators. It's still too recent and too much of a controversial topic so that 90% of the Vietnam history books are crap (i.e. Turse's "Kill Anything That Moves"). You don't want social commentary, you want an unbiased history. The two references above are relatively fair and unbiased histories (Ken Burns perhaps going a bit too light on the atrocities committed by North Vietnam). Hasting's book looks good from a quick Amazon review. Thanks USC I might pick that one up myself.

2.) Once you get an overall history, get specialized. Find out what your father did and deep dive into that aspect. Was he a gunner on a Huey? Dive into that history. Was he a fighter pilot/MIG hunter? Dive into that. Even if he was a mechanic working on a base - every group has a history that is unique and you will get more unique perspective and outlook. My father was a B26 driver in Korea, I found there are actually books written by some of the people in his squadron and found fascinating information.
Every book ever written is biased, even unbiased ones. That said, I also recommend The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Burns and Ward. I'm a history buff and many history books written are deadly dull and too verbose. This one isn't.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1R9XOE/ref=docs-os-doi_0
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Old 08-06-2019, 07:32 AM
 
12,467 posts, read 18,556,530 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooby Snacks View Post
Every book ever written is biased, even unbiased ones. That said, I also recommend The Vietnam War: An Intimate History by Burns and Ward. I'm a history buff and many history books written are deadly dull and too verbose. This one isn't.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1R9XOE/ref=docs-os-doi_0
I don't agree at all, all books might be biased in some form because the authors are human, but there are some written with a specific pre-defined agenda, perhaps a concept that they want to prove, that goes beyond the writing of history.
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:24 AM
 
9,293 posts, read 9,365,774 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grad_student200 View Post
Back in the 80s when I was in middle school none of the teachers would discuss Vietnam. It was a taboo topic that no one wanted to discuss. The was was too controversial with an unfortunate outcome. The push for silence on the matter was very strong from the teachers. Ironically, it created tremendous curiosity.

From about age 13 I read many books deep into adulthood about Vietnam. Here is a partial list:
* "Nam" by Mark Baker"
* "Combat Medic: Vietnam" by Craig Roberts
* "Aftermath" by Frederick Downs
* "Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu" by Bernard Fall
* "Tunnels of Cu Chi" by Tom Mangold.
* "A Soldier Reports" by General William Westmoreland

The first two I read were "Nam" and "A Soldier Reports". Immediately, I recognized the disparity in views of how the war had been conducted and its outcome. The "Nam" made it clear civilians were treated very badly many times (though not always). It also discussed hard topics like fragging, drug abuse, rape, fake body counts, friendly fire, etc. By contrast, Westmoreland's book was very "tight to the brass" and made it seem like the war had nothing negative in its conduct or outcome.

The book by Frederick Downs is from the view of a wounded soldier who lost his arm. He described in detail the level of suffering in the VA hospitals and how patients, families and allied health workers broke down in the patient ward. The hardship for wounded veterans was very sad. But he also was very racist against Asians and used the "g--k" slur many times which was common among Vietnam Veterans. But years later he put his bigotry aside and actually went on a medical mission to help Vietnamese people. One thing that stood out about Downs was his description of anti-war protesters. Their hatred against returning Veterans was often so severe that one of them told him he was glad Downs lost his arm. The turmoil of that time period was very obvious.

The book by Bernard Fall gives a very comprehensive description of the months leading to the final battle at Dien Bien Phu. He described details in military engineering and ingenuity of the Viet Minh in placing artillery in surrounding mountain tops which was thought to be impossible by French Military Intelligence. The Viet Minh also had captured US artillery received from North Korea. The details of the fall of the French Garrison were overwhelming with descriptions of maggots infested on wounded soldiers. The French artillery commander committed suicide after failing to counter-strike since the Viet Minh had hidden their cannons very effectively. The end of the battle with "Operation Albatross" was very well written.

In addition to the books above, I did a graduate-level project on Agent Orange and reviewed many scientific journals and related military documents. The VA Administration has modern links for updated studies on Agent Orange and a list of "service-connected" diseases for which veterans can file claims. Agent Orange is still killing Veterans decades later.

The best focal point for the war's military strategy (flawed at time) and outcome would be on Colonel David Hackworth. He was one of the most decorated soldiers in Vietnam but thought that the war strategy was wrong. Hackworth preferred a customized approach to fighting guerilla warfare that he devised. It worked for him but many senior leaders approached the war with the mindset of WWII battle fronts which Hackworth strongly disagreed with. So, he prediced the fall of Saigon in 1971 and the "Brass" got rid of him. He left the military but his predictionw as right.

I read so many books that I had thought watching the video series by Ken Burns would be a good complementary resource. But it was too depressing. I know so much of the "dark details" of that war that I just couldn't keep watching it. Hackworth had predicted Saigon would fall by 1975. He was right. He died of exposure to defoliants in 2005.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEuCJFccAsI
Did your reading and research get into questions like:

1. Why did we get into the war in the first place?

2. Why did we make such a large commitment in terms of men and resources to fight the war?

3. Why did we stay as long as we did when it became apparent we were not winning?

4. Why were we unable to win the war?

5. What was the human and economic cost of the war?

6. What does the Vietnam experience tell us about military commitments our country makes today?

For me, that was what I wanted to know and my reading and research was directed around those questions.
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:46 AM
 
1,774 posts, read 827,129 times
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My favorite Vietnam book is Requiem, a book about photojournalists who died there and their pictures. I saw an exhibition on the book in San Francisco, and then bought the book. It includes journalists from the North and some coverage of Viet Cong.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:05 PM
 
907 posts, read 208,328 times
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While by no means a historical work of any scope, I would nonetheless wholeheartedy recommend, as part of your delving into this subject, Tim O'Brien's memoir of his Vietnam experience, If I Die in a Combat Zone.

It is an account focused not on the big picture but on the person; mostly, on what participation variously did to those carrying out the work of the war.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:15 PM
 
152 posts, read 69,116 times
Reputation: 358
Dispatches by Michael Herr

A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo
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Old 08-06-2019, 03:09 PM
 
20 posts, read 2,060 times
Reputation: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by wildflowers27 View Post
Dispatches by Michael Herr

A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo
Indeed, I recommend them both.
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