DIRTY LIITLE SECRETS OF THE VIETNAM WAR by James F. Dunnigan

DIRTY LIITLE SECRETS OF THE VIETNAM WAR

Military Information You're Not Supposed to Know

KIRKUS REVIEW

Precious few secrets are revealed in this densely scattershot look at multiple aspects of the Vietnam War. Perhaps a better title for this wide-ranging book might be “An Enormous Number of Vietnam War Facts and Figures Covering Many Different Aspects of the War, Some of Which Are Not Widely Known, and Many of Which Are Readily Available in Dozens of Books.” Among the few facts that conceivably fit the title’s sensational promise are that 30 percent of the Americans who died in the war were Roman Catholics; that “underage boys” enlisted in the US military to fight in the war; that some renegade Japanese troops and Nazi Germans fought briefly with the Viet Minh against the French in the years following WWII; and that the communist side suffered from desertion and draft-dodging. Almost none of the other myriad facts on dozens of subjects, marshaled by the prolific military historians Dunnigan and Nofi (Victory at Sea: World War II in the Pacific, 1995, etc.), are bona fide secrets. The information given is either merely not widely known, fairly well known, or very well known to nearly anyone. In the latter category belong sundry authorial proclamations: that during the war “territory was commonly taken, lost, and retaken repeatedly, a particularly disheartening experience for the troops who got shot up doing it”; that there “was no hero’s welcome for the returning [American] soldiers”; and that “Americans held prisoner by the enemy had a rough time.” Aside from such banalities, the authors include a blizzard of statistical information on military hardware and personnel matters, much of it interesting and much of it seemingly accurate, although Dunnigan and Nofi provide only a minimal amount of supporting documentation. A decent enough look at many pertinent aspects of the Vietnam War that can't live up to its hyperbolic title.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19857-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998




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