Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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Cornell University's Logevall specializes in the Vietnam War's international aspects. His latest work masterfully pre-sents the war's roots in the U.S. reaction to the French colonial experience. And that experience was inextricably linked to the global changes wrought by WWII, the beginning of the cold war, and America's new role as the pre-eminent power in Asian and world affairs. Without neglecting the military aspects of the Franco-Indochina War and its aftermath, Logevall concentrates on political and diplomatic aspects. He presents "a contingent [story], full of alternative political choices." Initially, the odds were against the Viet Minh-but France could never decide to seek a compromise. With Vietnam's division after the Franco-Indochina War's end in 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem dominated South Vietnam's politics. But his limited concept of leadership and facile resort to repression alienated anticommunist nationalists. That was America's problem as well. Logevall makes a detailed case that America's Vietnam involvement replicated the French experience: the U.S. was fighting against an anticolonialist revolution and giving the Democratic Republic of Vietnam legitimacy that would be neither discredited nor defeated in 10 more years of war. 43 photos, 13 maps. Agent: John Dawkins & Associates. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Most American studies of the Vietnam War concentrate on the period following the introduction of U.S. combat units under President Johnson. However, contemporary Vietnamese accounts view the American phase as the concluding act of a prolonged nationalist struggle to gain independence from Western imperialism. Logevall, professor of history at Cornell, leans toward the latter approach that is, American involvement must be inseparably linked to the doomed French effort to maintain imperial control over Indochina. Of course, American policy makers insisted their goals were different; unlike the French, they wanted an independent South Vietnam free from both colonial and communist control. Yet, as Logevall eloquently illustrates, the U.S. followed essentially the same dreary path and made the same errors as its French predecessors. We failed to comprehend the nationalist yearnings of Vietnamese communists and were blind to their support among a wide swath of the people. That blindness led us to prop up hopelessly inept or hopelessly compromised Vietnamese leaders like Ngo Dinh Diem. This is a superbly written and well-argued reinterpretation of our tragic experience in Vietnam.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Cornell University's Logevall specializes in the Vietnam War's international aspects. His latest work masterfully pre-sents the war's roots in the U.S. reaction to the French colonial experience. And that experience was inextricably linked to the global changes wrought by WWII, the beginning of the cold war, and America's new role as the pre-eminent power in Asian and world affairs. Without neglecting the military aspects of the Franco-Indochina War and its aftermath, Logevall concentrates on political and diplomatic aspects. He presents "a contingent [story], full of alternative political choices." Initially, the odds were against the Viet Minh-but France could never decide to seek a compromise. With Vietnam's division after the Franco-Indochina War's end in 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem dominated South Vietnam's politics. But his limited concept of leadership and facile resort to repression alienated anticommunist nationalists. That was America's problem as well. Logevall makes a detailed case that America's Vietnam involvement replicated the French experience: the U.S. was fighting against an anticolonialist revolution and giving the Democratic Republic of Vietnam legitimacy that would be neither discredited nor defeated in 10 more years of war. 43 photos, 13 maps. Agent: John Dawkins & Associates. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Placing the Vietnam War in a global context, Logevall (John S. Knight Professor of International Studies, Cornell Univ.; Choosing War: The Last Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam) concludes that it was not an unavoidable quagmire. (Indeed, France, from its own experience, had warned that the war was unwinnable and advised U.S pursuit of diplomatic rather than military solutions.) His engrossing investigation begins in 1919 with an idealistic Ho Chi Minh seeking Vietnam's freedom from the French and concludes with the 1959 deaths of the first two American soldiers in the second Indochina War. In between, Logevall vividly recounts the demise of French imperialism in Southeast Asia and the emergence of a war-torn Vietnam during the Cold War. The highlight is the author's recounting of the 1954 Geneva Conference, which brought the ruthless and despised Ngo Dinh Diem to power in South Vietnam and made inevitable the permanent partitioning of Vietnam and the second Indochina War. VERDICT This deeply researched narrative by arguably the leading authority on Vietnam diplomacy untangles four decades of complicated foreign policy and includes fascinating stories of the U.S., Vietnamese, French, and British leaders who held conferences, forged treaties, and endured the consequences. Highly recommended for all serious readers of the Vietnam War; essential for scholars of the era.-Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.