Black April addresses that deficit. A culmination of exhaustive research in three distinct areas: primary source documents from American archives, North Vietnamese publications containing primary and secondary source material, and dozens of articles and numerous interviews with key South Vietnamese participants, this book represents one of the largest Vietnamese translation projects ever accomplished, including almost one hundred rarely or never seen before North Vietnamese unit histories, battle studies, and memoirs. Most important, to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of South Vietnam’s conquest, the leaders in Hanoi released several compendiums of formerly highly classified cables and memorandum between the Politburo and its military commanders in the south. This treasure trove of primary source materials provides the most complete insight into North Vietnamese decision-making ever complied. While South Vietnamese deliberations remain less clear, enough material exists to provide a decent overview.
Ultimately, whatever errors occurred on the American and South Vietnamese side, the simple fact remains that the country was conquered by a North Vietnamese military invasion despite written pledges by Hanoi’s leadership against such action. Hanoi’s momentous choice to destroy the Paris Peace Accords and militarily end the war sent a generation of South Vietnamese into exile, and exacerbated a societal trauma in America over our long Vietnam involvement that reverberates to this day. How that transpired deserves deeper scrutiny.
The Twenty-five Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon
General Thi fought in the Indochina War as a battery commander on the side of the French. When Viet Minh aggression began after the Geneva Accords, he served in the nascent Vietnamese National Army, and his career covers this army's entire lifespan. He was deputy commander of the 7th Infantry Division, and in 1965 he assumed command of the 9th Infantry Division. In 1966, at the age of thirty-three, he became one of the youngest generals in the Vietnamese Army. He participated in the Tet Offensive before being removed from the front lines for political reasons. When North Vietnam launched the 1972 Great Offensive, he was brought back to the field and eventually promoted to commander of an Army Corps Task Force along the Demilitarized Zone. With the fall of Saigon, he left Vietnam and emigrated to the United States.
Like his tactics during battle, General Thi pulls no punches in his denunciation of the various regimes of the Republic, and complacency and arrogance toward Vietnam in the policies of both France and the United States. Without lapsing into bitterness, this is finally a tribute to the soldiers who fell on behalf of a good cause.
The operation, dubbed Lam Son 719, went very well for the first few days, but as movement became bogged down the NVA rushed reinforcements to the battle and the ARVN forces found themselves under heavy attack. US airpower wreaked havoc on the North Vietnamese troops, but the South Vietnamese never regained momentum and ultimately began to withdraw back into their own country under heavy enemy pressure.
In this first in-depth study of this operation, military historian and Vietnam veteran James H. Willbanks traces the details of battle, analyzes what went wrong, and suggests insights into the difficulties currently being incurred with the training of indigenous forces.
The Vietnam War remains deep in the nation’s consciousness. It is vital that we know exactly what happened there–and who made it happen. This book provides a complete account of American Army ground combat forces–who they were, how they got to the battlefield, and what they did there. Year by year, battlefield by battlefield, the narrative follows the war in extraordinary, gripping detail. Over the course of the decade, the changes in fighting and in the combat troops themselves are described and documented. The Rise and Fall of an American Army represents the first total battlefield history of Army ground forces in the Vietnam War, containing much previously unreleased archival material. It re-creates the feel of battle with dramatic precision.
“Stanton’s writing . . . gives the reader a terrifying graphic description of combat in the many mini-environments of Vietnam.”
–The New York Times
“[A] MOVING, IMPORTANT BOOK.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch
From the Paperback edition.
The task of clarifying the issues without oversimplifying this complex war that impacted the world is undertaken by The A to Z of the Vietnam War: first in its chronology, then in its introduction, but mainly in a substantial dictionary section including hundreds of entries on significant persons (military and political), places, events, armed units, battles and lesser engagements, and weapons. And for those seeking further information, an extensive bibliography is included.
Published in cooperation with the Association of the United States Army
In 1971, while U.S. ground forces were prohibited from crossing the Laotian border, a South Vietnamese Army corps, with U.S. air support, launched the largest airmobile operation in the history of warfare, Lam Son 719. The objective: to sever the North Vietnamese Army’s main logistical artery, the Ho Chi Minh Trail, at its hub, Tchepone in Laos, an operation that, according to General Creighton Abrams, could have been the decisive battle of the war, hastening the withdrawal of U.S. forces and ensuring the survival of South Vietnam. The outcome: defeat of the South Vietnamese Army and heavy losses of U.S. helicopters and aircrews, but a successful preemptive strike that met President Nixon’s near-term political objectives.
Author Robert Sander, a helicopter pilot in Lam Son 719, explores why an operation of such importance failed. Drawing on archives and interviews, and firsthand testimony and reports, Sander chronicles not only the planning and execution of the operation but also the maneuvers of the bastions of political and military power during the ten-year effort to end Communist infiltration of South Vietnam leading up to Lam Son 719. The result is a picture from disparate perspectives: the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations; the South Vietnamese government led by President Nguyen Van Thieu; and senior U.S. military commanders and army aviators.
Sander’s conclusion is at once powerful and persuasively clear. Lam Son 719 was doomed in both the planning and execution—a casualty of domestic and international politics, flawed assumptions, incompetent execution, and the resolve of the North Vietnamese Army. A powerful work of military and political history, this book offers eloquent testimony that “failure, like success, cannot be measured in absolute terms.”