9/4/18. With more than one hundred four-color maps supplemented by photographs
and reconstructions, the Historical Atlas of the Vietnam War provides
the first major visualization of that war as well as a penetrating and
comprehensive analysis of the conflict based on both U.S. and Vietnamese
postwar accounts. The atlas begins with an overview of the foundations
of the Vietnamese nation-state, including its almost two-thousand-year
struggle to break free from Chinese domination and its century-long
fight to gain its independence from French colonial rule, and sets the
1954 partition of the country and the subsequent American involvement
there in their cold war context. U.S. involvement is examined in depth
to provide an understanding of why America intervened and why, despite
its battlefield successes, it ultimately failed to obtain its political
objective: a free and independent South Vietnam. Colonel Harry G.
Summers, Jr., examines the many anomalies of the war, including why the
United States bought the Communist propaganda line that relations
between China and Vietnam were as "the lips to the teeth," when Vietnam
actually felt betrayed by its Chinese "ally." Unlike most U.S. writings
on the war, which end with the 1968 Tet Offensive - a failing analogous
to ending the study of World War II with Stalingrad or Guadalcanal -
Summers' essay draws on North Vietnamese sources to explode the notion
that the war was an indigenous South Vietnamese uprising.
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