VIETNAM AND AMERICA: A Documented History by Marvin E. & Others--Eds. Gettleman

VIETNAM AND AMERICA: A Documented History

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Extensive anthology of documents on the Vietnam War, put together from an anti-war perspective. The editors intend to counteract ""revisionist"" histories, which portray the War as heroic and even winnable, by offering documents that expose the conflict as illegal, immoral, barbaric, duplicitous, and doomed from the outset. The book begins with an obscure nationalist text by a 19th-century Vietnamese emperor, then springs into familiar territory: the rise of Ho Chi Mirth, the French debacle at Dien Bien Phu, the sorry reign of Ngo Dinh Diem, the American invasion of Cambodia, the Tet Offensive, the horrors of Agent Orange. A number of offbeat items make the roster, including reports from flamboyant CIA operative Edward Landsdale, an expert in disinformation and sabotage, and national security memos by McGeorge Bundy on the merits of counterinsurgency. More often than not, the documents damn their authors quite nicely: US embassy cables make it perfectly clear--in case anyone was still in doubt--that Kennedy's cabinet engineered the downfall of Diem, while other papers hint that the American Navy, orchestrated the Gulf of Tonkin ""incident."" Whenever documentary evidence fails to paint America as the villain, the editors step in with commentary that does the trick. Even some long-standing anti-war activists may be put off by the book's biases--its failure, for instance, to critically examine documents from communist government sources well-known for their own expertise in disinformation and propaganda. A mixed bag: too one-sided to be considered a definitive documentary history, nonetheless a valuable anthology with some hard-to-find items.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1985
Publisher: Grove