- Reference Works and Anthologies
- General Texts
- Counterinsurgency & Pacification
- The Tet Offensive (1968)
- The American Defeat
- War Origins and Lessons
- The Anti-War Movement
- Vietnamese Sources
- Reading Materials about Agent Orange
Prepared and annotated by Prof. Ngô Vĩnh Long, University of Maine, Maine. April 2000. Prepared by The Vietnam Peace 25th Anniversary Committee. New York.
Stanley I. Kutler (ed.), Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996).
This is the most comprehensive and most up-to-date reference work on the Vietnam War. It contains 564 original signed articles ranging in length from fifty to five thousand words dealing with all aspects of the war in Vietnam, in the United States, and in other areas of the world. Among the articles are ten major interpretive essays the deal with the key issues of the war and its effects on the United States and Vietnam.
Marvin E. Gettleman, Jane Franklin, Marilyn B. Young, and H. Bruce Franklin (eds.) Vietnam and America: The Most Comprehensive Documented History of the Vietnam War (New York, Grove Press, 1995).
Although no longer the most comprehensive documented history of the war, this volume presents generous selections from the documentary records and well-researched essays by leading experts going as far back as Vietnam’s historical struggles against foreign invaders to the legacies of the war on both the United States and Vietnam.
George Katsiaficas (ed.), Vietnam Documents: American and Vietnamese Views of the War (1992).
A carefully chosen anthology of American and Vietnamese views of the war.
Andrew J. Rotter, Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Vietnam War Anthology (1991).
A decent collection of American documents and essays on the war.
Gabriel Kolko, Anatomy of A War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience (1995).
This is the most detailed analysis of the war that deals with the American side and the various Vietnamese sides—the North, the Saigon regime, and the southern revolution. It has the best treatment of the South in any general text.
Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (1991).
This is perhaps the most wide-ranging and lively synthesis of the vast literature on Vietnam war. It is also stands out for its sensitivity to the human dimensions of the conflict. A perfect general text for classes.
James S. Olson and Randy Roberts, Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam, 1945-1990 (1991).
George C. Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (McGraw Hill, 1996, 1986, 1979).
George Donelson Moss, Vietnam: An American Ordeal (1990/1998).
The above three books are well-written general texts that deal mainly with the American side. Herring’s book has been the most popular. Moss’s is written from a liberal standpoint but repeats most of the misinterpretations by the conservatives.
Jayne Werner and David Hunt (eds.), The American War in Vietnam (Cornell University Press, 1993).
Jayne Werner and Luu Doan Huynh (eds.), The Vietnam War: Vietnamese and American Perspectives (Sharpe, 1993).
The above two volumes come out of two remarkable conferences, the first in Hanoi in 1988 and the second at Columbia University in 1990, that involved Vietnamese and American scholars and policy makers. Most of the essays are first-rate and provide perspectives and analyses that had been mostly absent in previous works.
Peter Lowe (ed.), The Vietnam War (McMillan, Spring 1998).
This is a collection of new interpretive essays that deals with all sides involved in the war: China, the Soviet Union, the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, the American peace movement, and so on.
Alfred W. McCoy. The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade (New York: Lawrence Hill Books, 1991).
Bruce Franklin. M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America (Rutgers University Press, 1993).
Counterinsurgency or Pacification was nicknamed “The Other War: The War to win Hearts and Minds” by the American policy makers. It was, however, the heart of the American war in Vietnam and involved massive destruction of rural Vietnam through wholesale relocation of the population, wanton killing, anticrop programs, and so on. The following books are the most detailed on the subject.
Larry E. Cable, Conflict of Myths: The Development of American Counterinsurgency Doctrine and the Vietnam War (1986).
Perhaps the best book in term of research on counterinsurgency and pacification.
Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (Avon Books, 1990).
A most devastating critique of this infamous program. It is well-researched and well-written.
Dale Andrade, Ashes to Ashes: The Phoenix Program and the Vietnam War (Lexington, MA, 1990).
Well-research, but tries to rationalize this program. As a result, it gets high praises from pro-war Americans involved in Vietnam.
Richard A. Hunt, Pacification: The American Struggle for Vietnam’s Hearts and Minds (Westview Press, 1995).
Well-research, but again this is another attempt to justify the American effort. Hence William Colby, the former director of the CIA in charge of the program in Vietnam, and other CIA operatives have praised it very highly.
Douglas S. Blaufarb, The Counterinsrugency Era: U.S. Doctrines and Performance (New York, 1977).
A well-written book on the subject.
Charles R. Anderson, Vietnam: The Other War (1982).
Fair treatment of the subject.
Michael E. Peterson, The Combined Action Platoons: The U.S. Marines’ Other War in Vietnam (1989).
Focuses on the roles of the U.S. marines in pacification.
The Tet Offensive can be regarded as a great turning point in the war. Hence, there has been a lot of debate on this subject. The following volumes represent the best and most up-to-date research on this subject. The first volume contains Vietnamese perspectives that have not been dealt with before in other works.
Marc Jason Gilber and William Head, eds, The Tet Offensive (Praeger, 1996).
Ronald H. Spector, After Tet: The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam (1993).
Eric M. Begerud, The Dynamics of Defeat: The Vietnam War in Hau Nghia Province (Westview Press, 1991).
Eric M. Begerud, Red Thunder Tropic Lightening: The World of a Combat Division in Vietnam (Westview Press, 1993).
The above are well-research and well-reasoned works about the reasons for the American defeat in Vietnam by a former American officer and advisor. The first is an overall study of the political, economic and military struggle in a province southwest of Saigon. The second book is a detailed study of the American 25th Division that operated in the area immediately south of Saigon.
Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam (Random House, 1988).
Explains the reasons for the American defeat in Vietnam by interweaving events there with the life of one of the most infamous advisors in South Vietnam. The book is heavy on cultural misunderstanding and does not go into the issues of American imperialism and anti-communism, which were at the heart of the war.
William Colby (with James McCargar) Lost Victory: A Firsthand Account of America’s Sixteen-Year Involvement in Vietnam (Contemporary Books, 1989).
This book justifies the American efforts in Vietnam. Colby maintains that the war could have been won if more focus had been placed on pacification.
Robert Komer, Bureaucracy at War: U.S. Performance in Vietnam Conflict (Westview, 1986).
Kormer was the head of the pacification program in Vietnam and this book serves to justify it and its failure.
Arnold Isaacs, Without Honor, Defeat in Vietnam and Cambodia (Vintage Books, 1984).
A very well-written critique of American policies and performances that led to American defeats in Vietnam and Cambodia. One of the best accounts by an American journalist.
James William Gibson, The Perfect War: Technowar in Vietnam (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986).
This is a devastating and well-researched account of how the American conduct of the war led to its eventual defeat.
Mark Clodfelter, The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam (1989).
This book shows how, in spite of the unprecedented bombing of North Vietnam, the United States failed to achieve its intended purpose of getting North Vietnam to agree to US terms.
Andrew J. Rotter, The Path to Vietnam: Origins of the American Commitment to Southeast Asia (1989).
Jeffrey P. Kimball, To Reason Why: The Debate about the Causes of U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War (1990).
Robert J. Mc Mahon (ed.), Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War (1995).
The three books listed above are typical of the American debates about the origins of the war and the lessons to be drawn from it.
Tom Wells, The War Within: America’s Battle over Vietnam (Berkeley, 1994).
Charles DeBenedetti and Charles Chatfield, An American Ordeal: The Anti-War Movement of the Vietnam Era (Syracuse, 1990).
Thomas Powers, Vietnam, the War at Home: The Anti-war Movement, 1964-1968 (1984).
Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up? American Protest Against the War in Vietnam, 1963-1975 (1984).
There are many books and articles on the American anti-war movement. The above are the best general accounts.
Nguyen, Khac Vien. Vietnam: A Long History (Hanoi: The Gioi Publisher,1993).
Lap, Vu Tu. Vietnam: Geographical Data (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House,1979).
Le, Phan Huy, et al. The Traditional Village of Vietnam (Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers, 1993).
Tu, Mai Thi and Nham-Tuyet, Le Thi. Women in Vietnam (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1978).
Robert Dreyfuss. “Apocalypse Still, Agent Orange: The Next Generation,” Mother Jones (2/2000): 42-91.
The Catastrophe of Agent Orange for Vietnam. Indochina Newsletter 52 (July-August 1988).
Michael Uhl & Tod Ensign. GI Guinea Pigs: How the Pentagon Exposed Our Troops to Dangers More Deadly than War: Agent Orange and Atomic Radiation (Wideview Press. 1980).
Barry Weisberg. Ecocide in Indochina: The Ecology of War (Harper & Row, 1970).
Featured image: Vietnam War 1969 – VC skirmish near Dak To. During a skirmish, soldiers, including both south Vietnamese regulars and Americans, fire at national liberation forces positions, while other soldiers take cover in a shallow ditch by the side of a dirt road, near Dak To, Vietnam, mid 1969 – by Larry Burrows.