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Vietnam: Explaining America's Lost War, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-94899-6
240 pages
May 2015, ©2015, Wiley-Blackwell
Vietnam: Explaining America


Now available in a completely revised and updated second edition, Vietnam: Explaining America’s Lost War is an award-winning historiography of one of the 20th century’s seminal conflicts.

  • Looks at many facets of Vietnam War, examining central arguments of scholars, journalists, and participants and providing evidence on both sides of controversies around this event
  • Addresses key debates about the Vietnam War, asking whether the war was necessary for US security; whether President Kennedy would have avoided the war had he lived beyond November 1963; whether negotiation would have been a feasible alternative to war; and more
  • Assesses the lessons learned from this war, and how these lessons have affected American national security policy since
  • Written by a well-respected scholar in the field in an accessible style for students and scholars
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Table of Contents

Preface viii

1 From the Streets to the Books: The Origins of an Enduring Debate 1

2 A Necessary War or a Mistaken War? 23

3 “Kennedy Exceptionalism,” “Missed Opportunity for Peace,” or “Lost Victory?”: The Movement toward War, 1961–1965 49

4 The Revisionist Critique of the “Strategy for Defeat”: The Clausewitzian Alternative 84

5 The Revisionist Critique of the “Other War”: The “Hearts ]and ]Minds” Prescription for Victory 111

6 The Media and the War: Irresponsible or Balanced Journalism? 133

7 The Tet Offensive: Decisive American Victory or Devastating Loss? 155

8 Nixon–Kissinger and the Ending of the War: A “Lost Victory” or “Neither Peace nor Honor?” 179

9 Conclusion: The War’s “Lessons” 209

Bibliography 218

Index 221

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Author Information

Gary R. Hess is Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University, where he taught for forty-five years. His publications include The United States at War, 1941–1945 (Wiley, 3rd edition, 2010), Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq (rev. ed., 2009), Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War 1941–1945 (1998), and The United States’ Emergence as a Southeast Asian Power (1987).
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