Charissa's Reviews > Vietnam: A History

Vietnam by Stanley Karnow
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's review
Nov 23, 2007

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bookshelves: history, never-finished, non-fic, war
Read in April, 2009

My mom got me a second hand copy of this immense tome. I skimmed through it in college, but have forgotten most of what I read. Figured I'd give it a real read this time. Maybe I'll notice some similarities between Vietnam and Iraq. You think? So far my main impression is that the book smells like cigar smoke, and the cover has been ripped from it's spine. No matter... the pages still have all the words.
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Reading Progress

12/15/2008 page 367
48.93% "So far I have learned a few things I didn't previously absorb about the ramp up to the Vietnam War. So far so good."
04/13/2009 page 367
48.93% "I find myself disappointed by the focus of this book. I was hoping for more of an overview of the war itself, rather than it's politics."

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Félix (new)

Félix Maybe some similarities. The particulars of the conflict are far different, of course. The commonality is the boneheaded approach taken by the folks in charge of the execution of the so-called "mission."

An entire generation of lower to mid-level officers from the Viet Nam disaster vowed to never let a war without a definite objective ever happen again. Unfortunately, these people were not allowed to control events in Iraq. Therefore the same senseless blunders happened -- just on a smaller scale.

The sole lesson that seems to have survived from Viet Nam was the degree to which the media were allowed to see and broadcast the realities, specifically the flag-draped coffins coming into Dover AFB.

Charissa The first thing that has struck me as similar is the hubris with which we approach other cultures. America cannot seem to fathom that other cultures do not operate the same way our does. We didn't understand the Vietnamese people... and we don't understand the Iraqis. At least, our current administration doesn't understand them. Otherwise they wouldn't have expected them to become an Insto-Democracy (just add bombings).

Phillip Charissa
What do you hope to learn about the Vietnam War? There are much better books than Karnow. He had an axe to grind and was dealing with half the deck. There are recent books that have the benefit of North Vietnamese documents and the passage of time allows some common sense to rule. Let me give away the punch line in any decent book on our involvement: we should have kept Diem.

Charissa Hi Phillip... I am reading this one because my mom picked it up at a garage sale and brought it to my house the other day. I happened to be in the mood to see what this guy has to say. So far he doesn't seem to have much of an axe to grind. What kind of axe do you think he has?

I'd be delighted to know what particular book you think is best to read about Vietnam.

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