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 Nixon, John 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?