Embers Of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
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Embers Of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam

4.47 of 5 stars 4.47  ·  rating details  ·  288 ratings  ·  81 reviews
The struggle for Vietnam occupies a central place in the history of the twentieth century. Fought over a period of three decades, the conflict drew in all the world’s powers and saw two of them—first France, then the United States—attempt to subdue the revolutionary Vietnamese forces. For France, the defeat marked the effective end of her colonial empire, while for America...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 864 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Random House (first published January 1st 2012)
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Nocturne, Opus 1 by Norene MoskalskiEmbers Of War by Fredrik LogevallThe Quiet American by Graham GreeneWild by Cheryl StrayedThe Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa
6 Best of 2012
2nd out of 7 books — 3 voters
Founding Brothers by Joseph J. EllisBattle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPhersonWhat Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker HoweWashington's Crossing by David Hackett FischerAn Army at Dawn by Rick Atkinson
Pulitzer Winners: History
42nd out of 87 books — 47 voters

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Fredrik Logevall's The Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the making of America's Vietnam takes Vietnam's struggle for independence to its very beginning and carries it through the beginning of America's “real” involvement in the war. It is clearly written and written in great detail. Logevall backs up his book with eighty-three pages of bibliography, roughly one page for every ten written.

At the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, a young Vietnamese man in a rented morning coat comes to...more
James Wilhelm
Embers of War explains the forty year history of Vietnam leading up to the debacle of U.S. involvement. It is a captivating and important book that I highly recommend to anyone with an interest in history or the Vietnam War.
"Embers of War" is a page-turning account of how the United States became enmeshed in Vietnam after the Second World War and how those entanglements led to the Vietnam. What makes the book especially interesting to American readers, is how Longevall, a historian at Cornell University, tells the story through the lens of the France's war in Indochina after World War II, so in that sense the book is really two stories: a gripping account of the French war that lasted from between 1945/46 to 1954 o...more
A comprehensive, well-organized, engrossing and very well-written history of the French war in Indochina that led to the beginning of US involvement in that region. Logevall begins with the Japanese occupation during the world war up to 1959.

Logevall’s coverage of US involvement with the Diem regime is very good, and he does a great job explaining the remarkable number of ill-formulated and sometimes unrelated decisions made in this time period. One of Logevall’s points is that pretty much every...more
Got to about page 399 of this history of (mainly) the French war in Indochina after the Second World War. By this point in the narrative many French politicians wanted out but they were not sure how to do this given the enthusiasm of the new Eisenhower administration in the United States for continuing the war. The author emphasizes that the steps that American adminstrations saw as necessary for a successful (i. e. non-communist) outcome in Vietnam required steps, such as a path for Vietnamese...more
This book is fascinating. How many of we Americans knew that Ho Chi Minh had tried to see President Wilson in Paris in 1919 to try to get the USA to help Vietnam gain her independence from France? My guess is not many. Professor Logevall leads us through the history of Ho Chi Minh and his attempts to gain freedom from Vietnam's colonial ruler, shows us how it may have been much different had Roosevelt lived, and takes us through Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations as no one...more
James Murphy
Readers love to discover books which articulate what they've always known and understood. Embers of War fits my ideas of America's involvement in Vietnam. For that reason it's not surprising I'd like the book and consider it important in that it voices perspectives long needing to be made clear.

Logevall's huge book is a comprehensive history of the French return to Indochina following the defeat of Japan in 1945, how it found there a burgeoning nationalism and a free Vietnam already proclaimed u...more
Aug 22, 2012 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Those involved in the 60s, military people, history buffs w/ interests in Southeast Asia
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Well researched and sweeping in scope, this book was provided to me by the publisher as part of Goodreads.com First Reads program.

Embers of War: the Fall of an Empire and the making of America's Vietnam is a rather large book; covering the years from 1919 to 1959, before the US enaged the Viet Cong in many years of a war that was divisive both at home and within the military ranks. The amazing amount of research it contains demonstrates that a shocking history of errors and miscalculation served...more
* I won this in the FTC giveaway

This book is a phenomenal choice for any history buff, it was gripping and kept you interested until the end. I would absolutely recommend it :)
Julian Haigh
Logevall weaves so many narratives together connecting with characters on both a personal level, as well as placing their histories in a larger context of the 'international' movement to 'save' Vietnam.

From the overcompensating Charles De Gaulle for Frances embarrassment in WW2 attempting to 'save' their imperialist civilization mission to Ho Chi Minh's international political understandings of the importance of the American position, even as early as 1919, and the American position hardening f...more
Mike Kershaw
Embers of War by Fredrik Logevall is subtitled The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. It could probably be better subtitled "Kicking the Can Down the Road". Logevall spends 700 pages demonstrating that successive American administrations, from Truman's to Kennedy's, acted in a manner which almost inexorably led America to war in Vietnam. He does this by focusing at the strategic and diplomatic level, with just enough of the French combat experience in Vietnam to provide conte...more
You know a book about Vietnam is going to be thorough when it starts in the mid-1800s. This is an incredible story, beginning with the initial French colonial rule and ending in 1960, just when most U.S.-focused books on the war begin.

It is an outstanding telling of French and American involvement in Vietnam. That said, it is a massive book, and a commitment to sit down and read. Some of the nitty gritty diplomacy details get a little tiring, while other parts of the book (like the battle of Die...more
If you are really, really interested in the Vietnam war, you should read this book; it's fascinating. If you aren't and 700 pages of non-fiction is not your thing, then stay away. It's long and detailed, and the pay-off is a new understanding of the long slide into war.

I'm quite interested, and I loved it. As a Baby Boomer (born near the end of the boom years), the Vietnam war was the backdrop to my childhood. My father, a military doc, spent a year there, and the war or war protests were alway...more
This book was especially interesting to me because I was enlisted in the USMC the fall of 1954. At the time, even though I was stationed in Japan, we knew nothing about Vietnam or what was going on in Washington DC or how close we came to going into North Vietnam. Armed forces radio, the only radio station available kept us in the dark. Thanks to Winston Churchill England would not play along with the American Commie phobic war mongers and we stayed where we were for ten years.
Fredrik Logevall covers the rise of Ho Chi Minh, the First Indochina War, and the political intrigue that eventually led to America’s full military commitment in Vietnam. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel like an expert after you’ve read it; comprehensive, authoritative, lucid, and tight as a drum.
Obviously well researched and very readable. Sad to read of our missed opportunities to avoid that tragic conflict, and troubling to see us making some of the same mistakes today.

This was a First-reads giveaway.
Well, truthfully, i didn't read it ... There is detail and there is detail, but this one crossed over into minutia ... Not for me ... Might be a good reference book for a geek.
Phillip Jones
As I have indicated in other reviews, there are some historical events about which conventional wisdom has so solidified that it has turned into dogma. This is especially true about the greater Vietnam conflict. So many have poured so much of their intellectual, political, and other identity into a dogmatic perspective that the story has become an intellectual black hole from which exploration of new and alternate views is not allowed to escape. Fredrick Logeville performs and excellent job at a...more
An amazing feat! A history of the First Indochina War, American involvement and the transition to U.S. "responsibility" in Vietnam. Legevall begins in 1919 with Ho Chi Minh at Versailles and devotes such detail to the Geneva Accords, but this book is never dense, never boring. It is well written and informative.

Overall, it is easy for us in hindsight to think that the U.S. should never have gotten involved in Indochina/Vietnam but there are also reasonable explanations for U.S. policy. Logevall...more
Shawn Fairweather
The was a free read thanks to Goodreads first reads!!! Let me say that I was really excited about getting to read this and it being a free hardcover made it even better! Logevall took a much different approach to the Vietnam War than most writers and on a perspective that I have wanted to learn much more about. Logevall as a college professor and an obvious expert on the topic does not take the simpler route by rehashing stories and military tactics that have been rehased a thousand times over b...more
Emily Mishler
I won an advance copy of this book via a goodreads giveaway.

In all honesty, I only skimmed through this book. Giant history tombs are not generally on my list of light summer reading material. While comparing the writing style and tone of Logevall's book to other giant history tombs I have read for some of my college history classes, I would say Logevall rates high on the use of an engaging style. I actually could see myself one day sitting down and actually reading through the majority of this...more
Logevall won the Pulitzer Prize for History for this exhaustive work on the First Indochina War and how it ultimately led to U.S. involvement in the region. It was richly deserved. The impending disaster that was the Vietnam War can be seen from the failed efforts of the French in the 1950s.

The cast of characters in this book is big. The French changed commanders in Indochina frequently. American and British diplomats and spies drop in from time to time. Yet, Logevall manages to keep them all s...more
This book covers the French attempt to recolonize Vietnam after WWII, goes into depth about the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu and ends just as the US begins to send combat troops to Vietnam. As someone who lived through the US Vietnam Era (which the author did not), I found this book very helpful in explaining the US's "long and difficult commitment to Vietnam"(the US involvement in Vietnam started long before the sixties when most of us became aware of that country). I remember when the war wa...more
The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History, "Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam" by Fredrik Logevall is a thorough history of what the Vietnamese refer to as The American War, and what Americans call The Vietnam War. At 800-plus pages, it is not a light read by any stretch.As a child in the 1960s and 1970s, I was aware of the Vietnam War, but knew little about it. The war was too new to be included in our history books at school. I had much to learn about...more
This may be the most comprehensive history of the way the French handed Viet Nam off to the U.S. in the period from 1945-65. Logevall hits all the waypoints here--and they appear as a series of missed opportunities and 'What if's'. Ho Chi Minh may have studied in Moscow, but he was inspired by George Washington and Woodrow Wilson; during World War II he sought help from the OSS (the unit that eventually became the CIA and U.S. Army Special Forces) in de-coupling his country from France. The auth...more
Dec 12, 2012 Andrew added it
Shelves: first-reads
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Geoffrey Benn
In “Embers Of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam,” Frederik Logevall masterfully details the French war in Vietnam. The book, which won the 2013 Pulitzer prize for history, examines both the military campaigns of the war as well as the diplomatic battles that enabled the war. I picked up this book because I recently read Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” – the definitive novel of the French war in Vietnam. I was therefore delighted that Logevall spent a good deal o...more
Don Thompson
This is an excellent book that deserved the Pulitzer Prize Fredrik Logevall won in 2013. I've read many books about the Vietnam War, but most have dealt with the war during the Johnson and Nixon administrations. This book examines the decades that led to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Logevall writes about the opportunities Ho Chi Minh offered the U.S. to support Vietnam's quest for independence from France and the conundrum that presented to FDR's administration. While supportive of the quest...more
I took a semester long course in college called "History of the Vietnam War" and it was nowhere near as comprehensive as this book. I went into this book with some trepidation, because it is very long and I just am not really interested in the politics behind the Vietnam War. So I thought. Surprisingly, this is an immensely readable book and I cannot believe how much I did not know. The book begins many years before the American Vietnam War with the country's history of colonialism with France a...more
Mark Whitley
This is a pretty good book, and gives a nice history of the French war in Vietnam after WWII, and the Truman and Eisenhower administration's policy moves during that period. The author showed how the Cold War dynamics that came into play during this time helped cast the die for the American intervention in Vietnam in the 1960's and 1970's. The book also connected some dots for me, in that the height of the French efforts to fight the Vietminh was concurrent with the communist takeover in China a...more
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