If you think 2020 is a tough year, the years of the Vietnam War weren’t all unicorns and sunshine either. As the expression goes: “those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it:, Vietnam as an era of American unrest is in some ways similar to that we are experiencing today.
I thought that I had read all I ever needed to about that era and conflict, but in this era of limited travel and more home confinement than ever before, I picked up the noted historian Max Hastings recent book “Vietnam, An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975. In very readable detail Hastings recites the many follies on both sides of the conflict, from the French, Australian, American and both Vietnamese sides. As an English commentator for both newspapers and the BBC during the war, he actually escaped from the US Saigon embassy during the final 1975 evacuation, so has a personal perspective as well.
The book highlights not only the major engagements of the war, from the French disaster of Dien Bien Phu to the Tet Offensive and the bombing campaigns, but also the political side where one party was relentless in achieving its objective, and the others involved, not so much. While the going on behind the scenes in Washington, South Vietnam and our allies is in many ways disturbing, the author in my opinion is fairly even handed, and it makes for a fascinating read. Not dry in any way, for those of us that love history, I think its well worth your time.