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TRIAL BY FIRE by Dale Andradé

TRIAL BY FIRE

The 1972 Easter Offensive, America's Last Vietnam Battle

By Dale Andradé

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1995
ISBN: 0-7818-0286-5

 A masterful account of the last great engagement of the Vietnam War in which American forces participated. Drawing on a wealth of sources, military historian AndradÇ (Ashes to Ashes: The Phoenix Program and the Vietnam War, not reviewed) offers a tellingly detailed rundown of the 1972 Easter Offensive, which pitted more than 14 divisions of North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regulars against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and its dwindling corps of American advisors on widely separated battlefields near the so-called Demilitarized Zone, in the Central Highlands, and a few kilometers northwest of Saigon. Before getting down to business on the NVA's three-front bid for a decisive military triumph, AndradÇ provides big-picture perspectives on the tactical and strategic objectives of all the combatants, in particular the US, which was close to ending its in- country presence. Having set the stage, the author delivers savvy briefings on the campaign's major actions and sideshows, from the fall of Quang Tri (a provincial capital just south of the DMZ that was eventually recaptured) through the fierce defensive efforts that saved An Lock, Hue, Kontum, and other vital outposts from being taken by communist troops. In addition to high-caliber combat reportage, he supplies astute commentary on anti-tank weaponry, ARVN's unwieldy chain of command, close-air support, Hanoi's preoccupation with seizing territory, the Paris peace talks, and much more. Covered as well are the contributions made by legendary US Army officer (later Foreign Service official) John Paul Vann and a host of lower-profile Americans to what proved to be an interim victory for their South Vietnamese comrades in arms. Offering the first comprehensive coverage of an important chapter in the long, sorry tale of US involvement in Vietnam, AndradÇ does his subject proud and sets a high standard for any who follow. (Maps, not seen)