A credible and intellectually honest reevaluation.




A comprehensive history of the political causes of the American conflict in Vietnam.

As the extreme divisiveness that marked the Vietnam War slowly fades into America’s cultural consciousness, historians have busied themselves trying to place the conflict in an appropriate historical perspective. Mann, a veteran US senatorial staffer and acclaimed author (The Walls of Jericho, 1996), combines his insider’s understanding of the era’s political climate with a keen talent for narrative history to produce an insightful analysis of the American experience in Indochina. He casts the conflict as a series of false assumptions and miscalculations, and argues that Ho Chi Minh’s struggle against South Vietnam was not a Cold War expansion of communism so much as it was a nationalist struggle against western colonialism. After having presented Vietnam to the public as conflict over the containment of communism, Mann suggests that US presidents faced the unhappy dilemma of either appearing soft on communism or further miring the nation in an unwinnable war—and he demonstrates the heavy political price paid by Mike Mansfield, George McGovern, and others who opposed the fighting on principle. Mann further implies that such political risk led to Johnson’s gradual and ineffective escalation of the hostilities and Nixon’s equally cautious reduction of American commitment to the region. His research attempts to convince readers of how and why key politicians and policymakers led the nation into the foreign and domestic tumult caused by the war. His focus on political history provides a fresh view of the conflict and allows his account to rise above the many ideologically tainted histories of America in Southeast Asia.

A credible and intellectually honest reevaluation.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-465-04369-0

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet