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Old 08-10-2019, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Ohio
20,154 posts, read 14,371,475 times
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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.
There are only three books you need to read:

1) Bright Shining Lie by LTC John Paul Vann
2) We Were Soldiers Once... by LTG Harold Moore
3) Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall

Read Fall first, then Vann, then Moore. Everything you need to know is right there (and all are readily available).
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Old 08-10-2019, 04:14 PM
 
907 posts, read 208,328 times
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One of the basic tenets necessary to understanding the Vietnam War is Clausewitz's observation that War is a continuation of politics by other means.

Too many people are baffled by the fact that the much larger military powered by a much larger economy with a much larger manpower reserve somehow lost the war. This fact has spawned no end of tortured excuses of betrayal and conspiracy.

Vietnamese politics differed from the American politics. The American politics were an abstraction: the Domino Theory (stop communism at the 17th Parallel, or it will consume SE Asia - proven false when it was not stopped there and consumed only Laos and Cambodia, and those only because of the war itself). The Vietnamese politics were national primarily (independence) and ideological secondarily (communism). The locals will always fight harder than the non-locals, and it's easier to fight for something than to fight against that thing. Each power in a conflict thus has a degree of interest in the fight, which determines how much blood and treasure they are willing to pay to gain the goal of victory (which in itself is a complex and varying concept).

These realities, as Clausewitz understood, are more important than the number of bullets and bombs. A lot of people are still in denial over this simple reality.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:52 PM
 
1,418 posts, read 2,165,692 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mircea View Post
There are only three books you need to read:

1) Bright Shining Lie by LTC John Paul Vann
2) We Were Soldiers Once... by LTG Harold Moore
3) Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall

Read Fall first, then Vann, then Moore. Everything you need to know is right there (and all are readily available).
+1

My brother had a large collection of books about Vietnam, which I inherited, and I recall that the first two he suggested I read were Downs' books, as they mirrored his (my brother's) experiences there, and afterward.

Next, he recommended "We were Soldiers Once...,"as he had met the General at reunions and had spoken with Joe Galloway on many occasions, plus we had a mutual friend who was killed while reconnoitering the area on November 3rd.

He was also touched by "A Piece of My Heart," by Keith Walker.

A good friend, Rod Kane, wrote "Veteran's Day."

The OP might enjoy reading about John Kerry's Swift boat experiences in "Tour of Duty."

Two photographic studies that might be in the local library:

"The Vietnam War," edited by Ray Bonds.

"Nam - A Photographic History," Leo J. Daugherty and Gregory Louis Mattson.
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Old Yesterday, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Bel Air, California
21,540 posts, read 22,105,235 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41 View Post
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.
have read a sequel (of sorts) to that book by O'Brien that I could not put down.


The Things They Carried (1990) is a collection of linked short stories by American novelist Tim O'Brien, about a platoon of American soldiers fighting on the ground in the Vietnam War. His third book about the war, it is based upon his experiences as a soldier in the 23rd Infantry Division.

O'Brien generally refrains from political debate and discourse regarding the Vietnam War. He was dismayed that people in his home town seemed to have so little understanding of the war and its world. It was in part a response to what he considered ignorance that he wrote The Things They Carried.[1] It was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990.

Many of the characters are semi-autobiographical, sharing similarities with figures from his memoir If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home (1973/paperback 1999). In The Things They Carried, O'Brien plays with the genre of metafiction; he writes using verisimilitude. His use of real place names and inclusion of himself as the protagonist blurs fiction and non-fiction. As part of this effect, O'Brien dedicates The Things They Carried to the fictional men of the "Alpha Company," contributing to the novel appearing to be a war memoir.


^https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Things_They_Carried
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Old Today, 11:39 AM
 
380 posts, read 446,156 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USC1986 View Post
I would recommend "Vietnam, an Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975 " by Max Hastings,
Another recommendation for this book. A well balanced general history of the conflict. In addition to a whole lot more, the author distills most of the main points of Neil Sheehan's book other than those specific to John Vann.



The quick answer is here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2x3x29x41
One of the basic tenets necessary to understanding the Vietnam War is Clausewitz's observation that War is a continuation of politics by other means.
But Hasting's book lays out all the details of how this unfolded.
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