Like the widely praised original, this new edition is compact, clearly written, and accessible to the nonspecialist. First, the book chronicles and analyzes the twenty-year struggle to maintain South Vietnamese independence. Joes tells the story with a sympathetic focus on South Viet Nam and is highly critical of U.S. military strategy and tactics in fighting this war. He claims that the fall of South Viet Nam was not inevitable, that an abrupt and public termination of U.S. aid provoked a crisis of confidence inside South Viet Nam that led to the debacle. Students and scholars of military studies, South East Asia, U.S. foreign policy, or the general reader interested in this fascinating period in 20th century history, will find this new edition to be invaluable reading.
After discussing the principal American mistakes in the conflict, Joes outlines a workable alternative strategy that would have saved South Viet Nam while minimizing U.S. involvement and casualties. He documents the enormous sacrifices made by the South Vietnamese allies, who in proportion to population suffered forty times the casualties the Americans did. He concludes by linking the final conquest of South Viet Nam to an increased level of Soviet adventurism which resulted in the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. military build-up under Presidents Carter and Reagan, and the eventual collapse of the USSR. The complicated factors involved in the war are here offered in a consolidated, objective form, enabling the reader to consider the implications of U.S. experiences in South Viet Nam for future policy in other world areas.