Defining Documents in American History: The Vietnam War Review

“In this volume, a selection of 44 primary source documents articulate American involvement in the Vietnam War. Divided into five categories (“Kennedy’s War,” “Johnson’s War,” “The Anti‐War Movement,” “Nixon’s War,” and “Aftermath”), the resource is designed to introduce high school and college students to the circumstances surrounding key historical events. Each document is accompanied by a critical essay with a consistent organization (“Summary Overview,” “Defining Moment,” “Author Biography,” “Document Analysis,” and “Essential Themes”), followed by additional readings. The volume’s standard appendixes feature a chronology and Web resources. A few exemplary documents include then‐South Vietnam president Ngo Dinh Diem’s address to the US Congress, a letter from John Kennedy to Diem, and Ambassador Lodge on the worsening situation in Vietnam. Other documentary sources present topics such as “The Gulf of Tonkin Incident” alongside “The Tet Offensive: A CIA Assessment,” “Testimony Regarding the My Lai Massacre,” “The Weatherman Manifesto,” “Nixon on Operations in Cambodia,” “The Paris Peace Accords,” and the “Pardon of Draft Evaders.” The compilation is convenient and will be extremely useful to its designated readers. Summing Up: Recommended. High school, community college, and undergraduates students: general.” ‐ CHOICE

“The Vietnam War continues playing a critical role in U.S. history and national security policymaking. References to its impact are regularly made by critics of proposed U.S. military interventions in other countries. This work covers various documents on this conflict between 1956 and 1975 representing a divergent spectrum of political views on why the United States should or should not participate in this war.

This compilation is broken up into the following sections: Kennedy’s War, Johnson’s War, The Antiwar Movement, Nixon’s War, and Aftermath. Within these sections, overviews are provided of individual documents and the individual involved in creating them, the text of the document, analysis of the document’s significance, and bibliographic references. Examples of documents in these sections include: a January 14, 1961, letter from John Kennedy to South Vietnamese ruler Ngo Dinh Diem; Lyndon Johnson’s August 4, 1964, address on the Gulf of Tonkin incident; a July 21, 1965, meeting between LBJ and advisors such as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and Undersecretary of State George Ball; a March 1965 call by the Students for a Democratic Society for a march on Washington, D.C., to oppose the Vietnam War; Robert Kennedy’s February 8, 1968, speech “An Unwinnable War”; a September 1969 memorandum on Vietnamization from National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to Richard Nixon; excerpts from the 1973 Paris Peace Treaty ending U.S. participation in the war; and Jimmy Carter’s 1977 pardoning of draft evaders from this conflict.

This is a succinctly edited work which also features bibliographic references and Websites such as the State Department’s Historians Office covering American diplomatic relations during the Vietnam War. It will serve as a useful introduction to undergraduate students beginning to study the complexities and controversies of the Vietnam War and their lingering impact in American foreign and national security policy.”