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Vietnam: Explaining America's Lost War

ISBN: 978-1-4051-2527-7
232 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Vietnam: Explaining America
In Vietnam, Gary R. Hess describes and evaluates the main arguments of scholars, participants, and journalists, both revisionist and orthodox in their approach, as they try to answer fundamental questions of the Vietnam War.

  • Clearly examines the historiography of the Vietnam War

  • Questions whether the Vietnam War was lost due to poor strategy and leadership, or was inherently doomed to failure

  • Includes a bibliographic essay which complements the literature discussed in the text
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Preface.

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

2. A Necessary War or a Mistaken War?.

3. “Kennedy Exceptionalism” or “Missed Opportunity for Peace” or “Lost Victory” -- The Movement toward War, 1961--1965.

4. The Revisionist Critique of the “Strategy for Defeat” -- The Clausewitzian Alternative.

5. The Revisionist Critique of the “Other War” -- The “Hearts-and-Minds” Prescription for Victory.

6. The Media and the War: Shaping or Reflecting Public Opinion?.

7. The Tet Offensive: A Decisive American Victory or Prolongation of Stalemate?.

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

9. Conclusion.

Bibliography.

Index

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Gary R. Hess is Distinguished Research Professor of History at Bowling Green State University. He is a past president of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and a former chair of the U.S. State Department’s Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation. His publications include Vietnam and the United States: Origins and Legacy of War 1941-1945 (1998) and Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf (2001).
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  • Clearly examines the historiography of the Vietnam War
  • Describes and evaluates the main arguments of scholars, participants, and journalists – both revisionist and orthodox in their approach
  • Questions whether the Vietnam War was lost due to poor strategy and leadership, or was inherently doomed to failure
  • Includes a bibliographic essay which complements the literature discussed in the text
See More
“This is a book one will wish to assign to students: it lays out, with enviable clarity, what is at stake, what evidence exists for reaching a judgment, what various historians have concluded on the basis of the evidence they use and/or ignore, and Hess's own position on the matter. Because he is an honest historian, Hess does not pretend to be neutral.” (International History Review, June 2009)

"[Hess] has simply provided the best general overview of the literature on the Vietnam War that has been written to date." (Review of Politics, March 2009)

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

"Gary Hess’s new book is a survey of the scholarship on the Vietnam War which pits this revisionist historiography (the so-called ‘winnable’ war tradition) against the more numerous orthodox historiography (the ‘unwinnable’ war tradition) ... .[The book is] an enormously stimulating volume which usefully organises the literature on thematic lines and clarifies the battle lines between the orthodox and revisionist schools." (Reviews in History, January 2009)

Vietnam is the clearest explanation of the arguments over American involvement in the Vietnam War. It is essential reading for teachers and students of the war.”
–Robert Schulzinger, University of Colorado

“Hess, one of America's leading diplomatic historians, has written the most useful book to date – for both teachers and students – on the nation’s ordeal in Vietnam. It is a magnificently balanced study of the issues and the literature.”
–Warren Cohen, University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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