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VIETNAM by Russell Freedman Kirkus Star


A History of the War

by Russell Freedman

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3658-3
Publisher: Holiday House

An overview of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

When the French surrendered to Vietminh troops in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined the term “domino theory” and continued the French war to prevent the toppling of countries in Southeast Asia and contain the spread of communism. Only a nonfiction master craftsman can take such complicated history and craft a slim volume so clear, readable, and fascinating without sacrificing significant historical detail and nuance. Freedman covers President Lyndon B. Johnson’s escalation of the war after the Gulf of Tonkin incident (which probably never happened), the growth of the American anti-war movement, the My Lai massacre, the shootings at Kent State, Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-war speeches, the Watergate scandal, and the unraveling of the Nixon presidency. Early chapters detail Vietnam’s “long road to revolution,” and the volume concludes with its moral lessons, including U.S. Ambassador Peter Peterson’s reflection that “the war could have been averted had we made the effort to understand the politics of the place.” Abundant black-and-white photographs, many of them now-iconic images of the war, round out the volume. Where Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous (2015) offers a majestic feat of historical storytelling, this volume offers masterful concision instead.

Solid history that doesn’t shy away from difficult truths and important moral and political lessons.

(timeline, source notes, glossary, bibliography, picture credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)