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Kontum

The Battle to Save South Vietnam

Thomas P. McKenna

In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. Almost all of the American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam except for a small group of American advisers to the South Vietnamese armed forces. The 23rd ARVN Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated. Although much has been written about the Vietnam War, little of it addresses either the Easter Offensive or the Battle of Kontum. In Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, Thomas P. McKenna fills this gap, offering the only in-depth account available of this violent engagement. McKenna, a U.S. infantry lieutenant colonel assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, participated in the battle of Kontum and combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself. Kontum sheds new light on the actions of U.S. advisers in combat during the Vietnam War. McKenna’s book is not only an essential historical resource for America’s most controversial war but a personal story of valor and survival.

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Lessons in Leadership

My Life in the US Army from World War II to Vietnam

General John R. Deane Jr.. edited by Jack C. Mason

John R. Deane Jr. (1919--2013) was born with all the advantages a man needs to succeed in a career in the US Army, and he capitalized on his many opportunities in spectacular fashion. The son of one of George C. Marshall's closest assistants, Deane graduated from West Point with the first class of World War II and served in combat under the dynamic General Terry de la Mesa Allen Sr. After the war, he led a German espionage unit in operations against the Soviets, personally led the first foot patrol following the course of the Berlin Wall as it was being constructed, participated in the 1965 Dominican Republic intervention, and saw combat in Vietnam. In 1975, he received his fourth star and became commander of the US Army Materiel Development and Readiness Command.

In Lessons in Leadership, this exceptional soldier not only discusses working with some of the army's most influential and colorful leaders -- including James M. Gavin, William E. DePuy, William Westmoreland, and Creighton Abrams Jr. -- but also the many junior officers who helped him develop the leadership skills for which he became well known. Throughout, he offers eyewitness accounts of key Cold War--era events as well as wise observations concerning the leadership and management challenges facing the Department of Defense. Ably edited and annotated by Jack C. Mason, Deane's illuminating memoir also features interviews with several of Deane's contemporaries, whose comments and recollections are interspersed to provide depth and context to the narrative.

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Life and Death in the Central Highlands

An American Sergeant in the Vietnam War, 1968-1970

James T. Gillam

In 1968 James T. Gillam was a poorly focused college student at Ohio University who was dismissed and then drafted into the Army. Unlike most African Americans who entered the Army then, he became a Sergeant and an instructor at the Fort McClellan Alabama School of Infantry. In September 1968 he joined the First Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam. Within a month he transformed from an uncertain sergeant—who tried to avoid combat—to an aggressive soldier, killing his first enemy and planning and executing successful ambushes in the jungle. Gillam was a regular point man and occasional tunnel rat who fought below ground, an arena that few people knew about until after the war ended. By January 1970 he had earned a Combat Infantry Badge and been promoted to Staff Sergeant. Then Washington’s politics and military strategy took his battalion to the border of Cambodia. Search-and-destroy missions became longer and deadlier. From January to May his unit hunted and killed the enemy in a series of intense firefights, some of them in close combat. In those months Gillam was shot twice and struck by shrapnel twice. He became a savage, strangling a soldier in hand-to-hand combat inside a lightless tunnel. As his mid-summer date to return home approached, Gillam became fiercely determined to come home alive. The ultimate test of that determination came during the Cambodian invasion. On his last night in Cambodia, the enemy got inside the wire of the firebase, and the killing became close range and brutal. Gillam left the Army in June 1970, and within two weeks of his last encounter with death, he was once again a college student and destined to become a university professor. The nightmares and guilt about killing are gone, and so is the callous on his soul. Life and Death in the Central Highlands is a gripping, personal account of one soldier’s war in Vietnam.

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Long Time Passing, New Edition

Vietnam and the Haunted Generation

Myra MacPherson

Praise for the original edition:

"A haunting chorus of voices, a moving deeply disturbing evocation of an era." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Myra MacPherson’s book belongs with the best of the works on Vietnam, and there has been no better body of war literature that I know of." —Joseph Heller

"A brilliant and necessary book... this stunning depiction of Vietnam’s bitter fruit is calculated to agitate even the most complacent American." —Philadelphia Inquirer

"There have been many books on the Vietnam War, but few have captured its second life as memory better than Long Time Passing." —Washington Post Book World

"A most perceptive and fascinating account of the continuing impact of the Vietnam experience.... As this important book makes clear, we will be paying the costs for Vietnam for long years to come. Myra MacPherson not only lived through the Vietnam years, she writes with the insight of one still deeply caught up in the issues of that tragedy." —George McGovern

"Enthralling reading... full of deep and strong emotions." —New York Times

This new edition of a classic book on the impact of the Vietnam War on Americans reintroduces the haunted voices of the Vietnam era to a new generation of readers. In a new introduction, Myra MacPherson reflects on what has changed, and what hasn't, in the years since these interviews were conducted, explains the key points of reference from the 1980s that feature prominently in them, and brings the stories of her principal characters up-to-date.

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The Longest Rescue

The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson

Glenn Robins. foreword by Colonel Bud Day

While serving as a crew chief aboard a U.S. Air Force Rescue helicopter, Airman First Class William A. Robinson was shot down and captured in Ha Tinh Province, North Vietnam, on September 20, 1965. After a brief stint at the "Hanoi Hilton," Robinson endured 2,703 days in multiple North Vietnamese prison camps, including the notorious Briarpatch and various compounds at Cu Loc, known by the inmates as the Zoo. No enlisted man in American military history has been held as a prisoner of war longer than Robinson. For seven and a half years, he faced daily privations and endured the full range of North Vietnam's torture program.

In The Longest Rescue: The Life and Legacy of Vietnam POW William A. Robinson, Glenn Robins tells Robinson's story using an array of sources, including declassified U.S. military documents, translated Vietnamese documents, and interviews from the National Prisoner of War Museum. Unlike many other POW accounts, this comprehensive biography explores Robinson's life before and after his capture, particularly his estranged relationship with his father, enabling a better understanding of the difficult transition POWs face upon returning home and the toll exacted on their families. Robins's powerful narrative not only demonstrates how Robinson and his fellow prisoners embodied the dedication and sacrifice of America's enlisted men but also explores their place in history and memory.

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Looking Back on the Vietnam War

Twenty-first-Century Perspectives

Edited by Brenda Boyle and Jeehyun Lim

More than forty years have passed since the official end of the Vietnam War, yet the war’s legacies endure. Its history and iconography still provide fodder for film and fiction, communities of war refugees have spawned a wide Vietnamese diaspora, and the United States military remains embroiled in unwinnable wars with eerie echoes of Vietnam. Looking Back on the Vietnam War brings together scholars from a broad variety of disciplines, who offer fresh insights on the war’s psychological, economic, artistic, political, and environmental impacts. Each essay examines a different facet of the war, from its representation in Marvel comic books to the experiences of Vietnamese soldiers exposed to Agent Orange. By putting these pieces together, the contributors assemble an expansive yet nuanced composite portrait of the war and its global legacies. Though they come from diverse scholarly backgrounds, ranging from anthropology to film studies, the contributors are united in their commitment to original research. Whether exploring rare archives or engaging in extensive interviews, they voice perspectives that have been excluded from standard historical accounts. Looking Back on the Vietnam War thus embarks on an interdisciplinary and international investigation to discover what we remember about the war, how we remember it, and why.

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Looking for a Hero

Staff Sergeant Joe Ronnie Hooper and the Vietnam War

Peter Maslowski

Widely acclaimed as the Vietnam War's most highly decorated soldier, Joe Ronnie Hooper in many ways serves as a symbol for that conflict. His troubled, tempestuous life paralleled the upheavals in American society during the 1960s and 1970s, and his desperate quest to prove his manhood was uncomfortably akin to the macho image projected by three successive presidents in their "tough" policy in Southeast Asia. Looking for a Hero extracts the real Joe Hooper from the welter of lies and myths that swirl around his story; in doing so, the book uncovers not only the complicated truth about an American hero but also the story of how Hooper's war was lost in Vietnam, not at home.

Extensive interviews with friends, fellow soldiers, and family members reveal Hooper as a complex, gifted, and disturbed man. They also expose the flaws in his most famous and treasured accomplishment: earning the Medal of Honor. In the distortions, half-truths, and outright lies that mar Hooper's medal of honor file, authors Peter Maslowski and Don Winslow find a painful reflection of the army's inability to be honest with itself and the American public, with all the dire consequences that this dishonesty ultimately entailed. In the inextricably linked stories of Hooper and the Vietnam War, the nature of that deceit, and of America's defeat, becomes clear.

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Losing Binh Dinh

The Failure of Pacification and Vietnamization, 1969 - 1971

Boylan's careful and well-documented analysis of US and South Vietnamese counterinsurgency efforts in Binh Dinh province is a powerful and convincing refutation of those Revisionists who have counter-factually asserted that the US had won the war by 1970—only to have it lost because of the failure of Congress to support Saigon after the 1973 Paris agreement.

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Losing Vietnam

How America Abandoned Southeast Asia

Major General Ira A. Hunt Jr., USA (Ret.)

In the early 1970s, as U.S. combat forces began to withdraw from Southeast Asia, South Vietnamese and Cambodian forces continued the fight against the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF), more commonly known as the Viet Cong. Despite the evacuation of its ground troops, the United States promised to materially support its allies' struggle against communist aggression. Over time, however, the American government drastically reduced its funding of the conflict, placing immense strain on the Cambodian and South Vietnamese armed forces, which were fighting well-supplied enemies. In Losing Vietnam, Major General Ira A. Hunt Jr. chronicles the efforts of U.S. military and State Department officials who argued that severe congressional budget reductions ultimately would lead to the defeat of both Cambodia and South Vietnam. Hunt details the catastrophic effects of reduced funding and of conducting "wars by budget." As deputy commander of the United States Support Activities Group Headquarters (USAAG) in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, Hunt received all Southeast Asia operational reports, reconnaissance information, and electronic intercepts, placing him at the forefront of military intelligence and analysis in the area. He also met frequently with senior military leaders of Cambodia and South Vietnam, contacts who shared their insights and gave him personal accounts of the ground wars raging in the region. This detailed and fascinating work highlights how analytical studies provided to commanders and staff agencies improved decision making in military operations. By assessing allied capabilities and the strength of enemy operations, Hunt effectively demonstrates that America's lack of financial support and resolve doomed Cambodia and South Vietnam to defeat.

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The Lotus Unleashed

The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966

Robert J. Topmiller

During the Vietnam War, Vietnamese Buddhist peace activists made extraordinary sacrifices—including self-immolation—to try to end the fighting. They hoped to establish a neutralist government that would broker peace with the Communists and expel the Americans. Robert J. Topmiller explores South Vietnamese attitudes toward the war, the insurgency, and U.S. intervention, and lays bare the dissension within the U.S. military. The Lotus Unleashed is one of the few studies to illuminate the impact of internal Vietnamese politics on U.S. decision-making and to examine the power of a nonviolent movement to confront a violent superpower.

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