The Vietnam War was the longest war as well as the least popular, lacking general public support. Direct American involvement began in 1955 with the arrival of the first military advisors. The first combat troops arrived in 1965 after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, will thousands more arriving constantly.
The Americans fought the war until the cease-fire in January 1973. The war divided Americans; there were those who supported the government and those who vehemently opposed the war. This opposition led to violence, riots and protests in the form of the Antiwar movement.
The United States knew that it would be impossible to win the war, however the government refused to admit the US had failed. It would be embarrassing for the American Superpower to lose since it had won every war it had previously fought. The government also did not give up this failing effort because of the Cold War, it was deemed a struggle against Communism. The US did not want to lose South Vietnam as they believed they had lost China in 1949.
Therefore all the Presidents from Eisenhower on, but mostly Johnson and then Nixon kept sending troops to Vietnam against the country’s desire or agreement. Until Nixon finally withdrew American troops in 1973 the last one leaving in 1975.
The casualties were devastating; Fifty-eight thousand Americans lost their lives. Millions of Vietnamese perished. The financial cost to the United States was just as deep. The war cost $150 billion dollars, and Johnson believed it prevented the Great Society from reaching its potential.
The following list of books represent different veiw points on the Vietnam War. Some books will serve as overviews of the war and American involvement. Some focus on the Presidents and their policies that led Americans into the War. There are are also memoirs by Robert McNamara and Daniel Ellesberg about their experience with Vietnam. Ellsberg with the Pentagon Papers and McNamara as being the Secretary of State during the Kennedy and Johnson Presidencies. The books by Wells and Small offers an opposition to America’s involvement in the war.
Bibilography: Vietnam War
Baritz, Loren. Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did. Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press, c1998. 393 p.
Barrett, David M. Uncertain warriors : Lyndon Johnson and his Vietnam advisers. Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, 1993. 279 p.
Berman, Larry. Lyndon Johnson’s war : the road to stalemate in Vietnam. New York : Norton, 1989. 254 p.
Donovan, Robert J. Nemesis : Truman and Johnson in the coils of war in Asia. New York : St. Martin’s-Marek, 1st ed., 1984. 216 p.
Dudley, William. The Vietnam war : opposing viewpoints. San Diego, Calif. : Greenhaven Press, 1998. 284 p.
Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon paper. New York : Viking, 2002. 498 p.
Gardner, Lloyd C. Pay any price : Lyndon Johnson and the wars for Vietnam. Chicago : I.R. Dee, 1995. 610 p.
Herring, George C. LBJ and Vietnam : a different kind of war. Austin : University of Texas Press, 1st ed., 1994. 228 p.
Herring, George. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. 4th ed. Boston : McGraw-Hill, c2002. 368p.
Herr, Michael. Dispatches. 1st ed. New York : Knopf, 1977. 260 p.
Hunt, Michael H. Lyndon Johnson’s war : America’s cold war crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1986. New York : Hill and Wang, 1st ed., 1996. 146 p.
Langguth, A. J. Our Vietnam : the war, 1954-1975. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2000. 766 p.
Kaiser, David E. American tragedy : Kennedy, Johnson, and the origins of the Vietnam War. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000. 566 p.
Logevall, Fredrik. Choosing War: The Last Chance for Peace and the Escalation of the War in Vietnam. 1999.
McMaster, H. R. Dereliction of duty : Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the lies that led to Vietnam. New York : HarperCollins, 1st ed., 1997. 446 p.
McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect : The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Robert S. McNamara with Brian VanDeMark. 1st ed. New York : Times Books, c1995. 414 p.
McNamara, Robert S. et al. Argument without end : in search of answers to the Vietnam tragedy. Robert S. McNamara, James G. Blight, and Robert K. Brigham. 1st ed. New York : Public Affairs, c1999. 479 p.
Schandler, Herbert Y. The unmaking of a president : Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, 1977. 419 p.
Schulzinger, Robert D. A time for war : the United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975. New York : Oxford University Press, 1997. 397 p.
Sheenan, Neil et al. The Pentagon Papers, as published in the New York Times. New York, 1971.
Turner, Kathleen J. Lyndon Johnson’s dual war : Vietnam and the press. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1985. 358 p.
Vandiver, Frank Everson. Shadows of Vietnam : Lyndon Johnson’s wars. College Station : Texas A&M University Press, 1st ed., 1997. 396 p.
VanDeMark, Brian. Into the quagmire : Lyndon Johnson and the escalation of the Vietnam War. New York : Oxford University Press, 1991. 268 p.
Wells, Tom. The War Within: America’s Battle Over Vietnam. Foreword by Todd Gitlin. Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, c1994. 706 p.
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