An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975
On Sale: 10/16/2018
An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975
On Sale: 10/16/2018
About the Book
An absorbing and definitive modern history of the Vietnam War from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Secret War.
Vietnam became the Western world’s most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the 1968 Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and also much less familiar miniatures such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh’s warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed two million people.
Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings, and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners’ victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls, and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, and Huey pilots from Arkansas.
No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings’ readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the twenty-first century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.
“This is a comprehensive, spellbinding, surprisingly intimate, and altogether magnificent historical narrative.” - Tim O’Brien, author of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Things They Carried
“Max Hastings’ meticulously researched, superbly written account will now become the standard by which all other histories of the Vietnam War are judged. He leaves no stone unturned in examining three decades of conflict from the vantage points of all combatants at all levels—from offices in Washington, Hanoi, and Saigon and conference tables in Geneva and Paris, to treacherous trips down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, savage fire-fights in jungles and rice paddies, and terror-inducing air attacks. The result is a work both eminently readable and definitive.” - National War College Professor Mark Clodfelter, author of The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam
“This balanced and inciteful book is a pleasure to read. It destroys the fantasy that one side or the other held the moral high ground or a monopoly on devastating folly.” - Karl Marlantes, author of What It Is Like to Go to War and Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War
“A characteristically brilliant, monumental work by Max Hastings that masterfully presents the political, cultural, military, and social factors that produced the most divisive and disastrous conflict in American history. Hastings synthesizes innumerable sources, including many from North Vietnam, that, in an unflinching, clear-eyed manner capture the brutality of both sides in this war, as well as the heroism and the ineptitude, the public confidence and the inner doubts that resulted in the tragedy that was Vietnam – a war that Hastings implies neither side deserved to win.” - General David Petraeus (US Army, Ret.), Chairman, KKR Global Institute and former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Director of the CIA.
“[Hastings] brings his usual brilliant descriptive skills to the action, mixing individual anecdotes with big-picture considerations…. The sole satisfying outcome of two recent American interventions in poor nations with incompetent governments is likely to be more superb histories by Hastings. A definitive history, gripping from start to finish but relentlessly disturbing.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
- ISBN: 9780062405661
- ISBN 10: 0062405667
- Imprint: Harper
- On Sale: 10/16/2018
- Trimsize: 6.000 in (w) x 9.000 in (h) x 1.802 in (d)
- Pages: 896
- List Price: $37.50
- BISAC1: HISTORY / Military / Vietnam War
- BISAC2: HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
- BISAC3: HISTORY / Asia / Southeast Asia