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A Medal of Honor, Vietnam, and the War at Home
Born in rural Illinois, Ken Kays was a country boy who flunked out of college and wound up serving as a medic in the Vietnam War. On May 7, 1970, after only 17 days in Vietnam and one day after joining a new platoon, the young medic found himself in a ferocious battle. As a conscientious objector, Kays did not carry any weapons, but his actions during that engagement would earn him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Yet Kays' valor came during just another unheralded fire fight near the end of a long and seemingly fruitless war. He returned home and, with other vets, struggled to reconcile his anti-war beliefs with what he and others had done in Vietnam. This dramatic and tragic story is a timely reminder of the price of war and the fragile comforts of peace.
An American Paratrooper and the 1972 Battle for An Loc
A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War
The anti-Vietnam War movement in the United States is perhaps best remembered for its young, counterculture student protesters. However, the Vietnam War was the first conflict in American history in which a substantial number of military personnel actively protested the war while it was in progress.
In The Turning, Andrew Hunt reclaims the history of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), an organization that transformed the antiwar movement by placing Vietnam veterans in the forefront of the nationwide struggle to end the war. Misunderstood by both authorities and radicals alike, VVAW members were mostly young men who had served in Vietnam and returned profoundly disillusioned with the rationale for the war and with American conduct in Southeast Asia. Angry, impassioned, and uncompromisingly militant, the VVAW that Hunt chronicles in this first history of the organization posed a formidable threat to America's Vietnam policy and further contributed to the sense that the nation was under siege from within.
Based on extensive interviews and in-depth primary research, including recently declassified government files, The Turning is a vivid history of the men who risked censures, stigma, even imprisonment for a cause they believed to be "an extended tour of duty."
A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon
For Victor Hugo, the nineteenth century could be remembered by only its first two years, which established peace in Europe and France's supremacy on the continent. For General Lam Quang Thi, the twentieth century had only twenty-five years: from 1950 to 1975, during which the Republic of Vietnam and its Army grew up and collapsed with the fall of Saigon. This is the story of those twenty-five years. General Thi fought in the Indochina War as a battery commander on the side of the French. When Viet Minh aggression began after the Geneva Accords, he served in the nascent Vietnamese National Army, and his career covers this army's entire lifespan. He was deputy commander of the 7th Infantry Division, and in 1965 he assumed command of the 9th Infantry Division. In 1966, at the age of thirty-three, he became one of the youngest generals in the Vietnamese Army. He participated in the Tet Offensive before being removed from the front lines for political reasons. When North Vietnam launched the 1972 Great Offensive, he was brought back to the field and eventually promoted to commander of an Army Corps Task Force along the Demilitarized Zone. With the fall of Saigon, he left Vietnam and emigrated to the United States. Like his tactics during battle, General Thi pulls no punches in his denunciation of the various regimes of the Republic, and complacency and arrogance toward Vietnam in the policies of both France and the United States. Without lapsing into bitterness, this is finally a tribute to the soldiers who fell on behalf of a good cause.
Bringing Back the MIAs from Vietnam, a Personal Memoir
The CIA and Counterinsurgency
Vietnam Declassified is a detailed account of the CIA’s effort to help South Vietnamese authorities win the loyalty of the Vietnamese peasantry and suppress the Viet Cong. Covering the CIA engagement from 1954 to mid-1972, it provides a thorough analysis of the agency and its partners. Retired CIA operative and intelligence consultant Thomas L. Ahern Jr. is the first to comprehensively document the CIA’s role in the rural pacification of South Vietnam, drawing from secret archives to which he had unrestricted access. In addition to a chronology of operations, the book explores the assumptions, political values, and cultural outlooks of not only the CIA and other U.S. government agencies, but also of the peasants, Viet Cong, and Saigon government forces competing for their loyalty. The depth of Ahern’s research combined with the timely relevance of his analysis to current events in the Middle East makes this title an important addition to military literature.
Veterans, Memorials, and the Politics of Healing
A study of American attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the Vietnam War, this book highlights the central role played by Vietnam veterans in shaping public memory of the war. Tracing the evolution of the image of the Vietnam veteran from alienated dissenter to traumatized victim to noble warrior, Patrick Hagopian describes how efforts to commemorate the war increasingly downplayed the political divisions it spawned in favor of a more unifying emphasis on honoring veterans and promoting national “healing.”
Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN
2009 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award for Biography
Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in the ARVN chronicles the lives of Pham Van Dinh and Tran Ngoc Hue, two of the brightest young stars in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN). Both men fought with valor in a war that seemed to have no end, exemplifying ARVN bravery and determination that is largely forgotten or ignored in the West. However, while Hue fought until he was captured by the North Vietnamese Army and then endured thirteen years of captivity, Dinh surrendered and defected to the enemy, for whom he served as a teacher in the reeducation of his former ARVN comrades.
An understanding of how two lives that were so similar diverged so dramatically provides a lens through which to understand the ARVN and South Vietnam’s complex relationship with Americas government and military. The lives of Dinh and Hue reflect the ARVNs battlefield successes, from the recapture of the Citadel in Hue City in the Tet Offensive of 1968, to Dinhs unheralded role in the seizure of Hamburger Hill a year later. However, their careers expose an ARVN that was over-politicized, tactically flawed, and dependent on American logistical and firepower support. Marginalized within an American war, ARVN faced a grim fate as U.S. forces began to exit the conflict. As the structure of the ARVN/U.S. alliance unraveled, Dinh and Hue were left alone to make the most difficult decisions of their lives.
Andrew Wiest weaves historical analysis with a compelling narrative, culled from extensive interviews with Dinh, Hue, and other key figures. Once both military superstars, Dinh is viewed by a traitor by many within the South Vietnamese community, while Hue, an expatriate living in northern Virginia, is seen as a hero who never let go of his ideals. Their experiences and legacies mirror that of the ARVNs rise and fall as well as the tragic history of South Vietnam.
From Peasant Insurrection to Total War, 1959-1968
In Vietnam, the American government vowed to win the “hearts and minds” of the people. On the other side, among those who led and sympathized with the insurgents, the term “people’s war” gained a wide currency. Yet while much has been written about those who professed to speak for the Vietnamese population, we know surprisingly little about the everyday life of the peasants who made up the bulk of the country’s inhabitants. This book illuminates that subject. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including interviews conducted by the Rand Corporation with informants from My Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, David Hunt brings to light the daily experience of villagers in the midst of war and revolution.The peasants of southern Vietnam were neither onlookers nor mere victims as fighting raged throughout their country. From the “concerted uprising” in 1959–1960 to the Tet Offensive of 1968, the revolutionary movement they created was in fact the driving force within the war. Known as the “Viet Cong” to their adversaries, the rebels called themselves the “Liberation Front.” They demanded an end to landlordism and an egalitarian distribution of the means of subsistence as well as a democratization of relations between town and countryside, parents and children, men and women. They hoped the Vietnamese people would achieve a fuller sense of their place in the world and of the power they possessed to fashion their own destinies, without reliance on supernatural forces.In the first half of the book, Hunt analyzes this cultural revolution. As fighting spread and became more destructive, especially after the U.S. escalation in 1965, villagers were driven from their homes, the rural infrastructure collapsed, and customary notions of space and time lost purchase on an increasingly chaotic world. In the second half of the book, Hunt shows how peasants, who earlier had aspired to a kind of revolutionary modernism, now found themselves struggling to survive and to cope with the American intruders who poured into My Tho, and how they managed to regroup and spearhead the Tet Offensive that irrevocably altered the course of the war.
One Wife's Year of the Vietnam War
In April 1969, Linda Moore-Lanning watched her husband, Lt. Michael Lee Lanning, board a Greyhound bus that would take him to a military flight scheduled to deposit him in Vietnam. As he boarded the bus, Lee told her, "It’s only for a year." Moore-Lanning struggled to believe her husband’s words. Waiting: One Wife’s Year of the Vietnam War is the deeply personal account of Moore-Lanning’s year as a waiting wife. The first-ever book from the perspective of a wife on the home front during the Vietnam War, Moore-Lanning’s telling is both unflinching in its honesty and universal in its evocation of the price exacted from those who were left behind. During her "waiting year," Moore-Lanning traveled far, in both distance and perspective, from the small West Texas town of Roby where she had grown up and met her husband. Through her eyes, we experience the agony of waiting for the next letter from Lee; the exhilaration of learning of her pregnancy; the frustration of dealing with friends and family members who didn’t understand her struggles; and the solace of companionship with Susan Hargrove, another waiting wife. Because of her insistence that Lee give her an honest account of his experiences, Moore-Lanning also affords readers a gut-wrenching view of Vietnam as narrated by an infantry commander in the field. Unfolding with the gripping narrative of a novel, Waiting will captivate general readers, while those interested in military history and home front perspectives—especially from the Vietnam War—will deeply appreciate this impressive addition to the literature.