New Read: The Vietnam War (A Very Brief History)

Last year, I had a bit of an US politics theme going on in my reading through Mark Black’s A Very Brief History series. I read about Richard NixonJohn F Kennedy, The Cuban Missile Crisis and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. So it seemed only fitting to continue this in the new year with The Vietnam War instalment.

Before reading this, what I knew about this disastrous war was what I’d learned from watching the amazing films: Good Morning Vietnam (1987) and Forest Gump (1994). Turns out they’d taught me a fair bit! From reading this though I was able to get a better grip on the numbers involved; the shocking loss of life and the complicated politics behind it. Also I always thought the only foreign forces involved were the Americans, but Australia and New Zealand sent troops to support the South Vietnamese too. While North Korea, the Soviet Union and Republic of China weighed in with support for the North Vietnamese. All in all this war was a whole lot bigger and more devastating than I had ever imagined. No wonder it went on to define a generation.

If it hadn’t been for these Black’s short histories, I doubt I would have ever read about US presidents, politics or this war otherwise, which would be a shame because I have learnt so much from them. This clear, fast paced and concise history is broken down into bite-size chapters on: the background of the war; US foreign policy; the escalation of the war; policy under Richard Nixon; policy under Gerald Ford; other foreign involvement; the US defeat and withdrawal; and the aftermath of the war. This style is helpful for a reader, like me, to learn quickly the main events and essential facts.

Overall, I thought The Vietnam War: A Very Brief History was another quick and interesting read. A good starting point on an important event in history, but I would need to read on for more in-depth detail. With six more editions from this series on my Kindle, I think it seems appropriate to read the Ronald Reagan one next. Okay read.

Have you read this? Or anything else about the Vietnam war?

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8 thoughts on “New Read: The Vietnam War (A Very Brief History)

  1. Vietnam, one of the shames of my country. I have read numerous books about it, mostly fiction, and have many more I plan to read. To name a couple: The Quiet American by Graham Greene tells of how the US took over from France and Great Britain in Vietnam. The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen tells it from the Vietnamese side of the story.

    1. Interesting Judy – I have heard of The Quiet American by Graham Greene but didn’t know it was about this war. In the background chapter of this book, I found out how France had had control of Vietnam. When the war for independence started, Britain and other European countries supported France’s claim to Vietnam, however they were not prepared to back it up with troops. The fall out from that war saw the rise of Communism in North Vietnam which was what the Americans, at the time, were so worried about.

  2. I may be tempted to read this one. I don’t know enough about the background to the Vietnam War but don’t fancy reading a big history of it, so this might be enough to fill in a few gaps. Funnily enough, I’m reading a fiction book at the moment, not set in the war but with lead characters who’ve been affected by it – In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson. Oddly, it also has vampires in it… *slightly baffled expression*

    1. FF, I hope you are able to read this as I think it gives you a quick, whistle stop tour of the key events and details of the Vietnam War, all of which could be read in about an hour or so! Might also give you better understanding of why the characters in your current read, In the Valley of the Sun, have been affected… although probably won’t help you understand why there are vampires in it! 😀

  3. It’s great that you’re reading all these non fiction books and enjoying them so much. I do love history and I know that I should get back to reading more about it but at the moment it just wouldn’t work and I know that I’d just grow and even bigger stack of unread books – eventually though.
    Lynn 😀

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