A TIME FOR WAR by Robert D. Schulzinger


The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975
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 A sober, objective, detailed recounting and analysis of the American war in Vietnam, told almost exclusively from the American perspective. Schulzinger (History/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) offers no new theory on why the US fought in Vietnam nor why this country came out on the losing end. But he has a different objective: offering a ``compendium of the current state of scholarship on the Vietnam War.'' Leaning heavily on State Department cables, White House memoranda, and other primary sources, Schulzinger offers a strongly researched, cleanly written, chronological look at Vietnam and an analysis of why the war effort failed. In the main, he agrees with the assessment of former secretary of state Dean Rusk, who believed that the Vietnamese communists prevailed because American policymakers underestimated the will of the North Vietnamese and overestimated the patience of the American people. Schulzinger also believes that, given the tenacity of the enemy and the severe political and military shortcomings of our South Vietnamese ally, the war was unwinnable for America. Schulzinger asks rhetorically what the US could have done to win, given the realities of the time. The answer: ``Nothing.'' Among the book's many strong points is Schulzinger's dispassionate analysis of the antiwar movement, in which he addresses the still hotly debated question of whether the protests helped end the war or prolonged it by comforting the enemy. The antiwar movement ``did not end the war in Vietnam, but it did alter, almost irrevocably, the perceptions of ordinary citizens of their society and their government; it also altered the perceptions of leaders toward the public.'' The first of a projected two-volume set; volume II will cover the Vietnam War's political, economic, social, and cultural legacies. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-19-507189-1
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1997


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