Sunday, 27 November 2022

Audible - Vietnam, Max Hastings

I knew I needed to read this book, so I bought it, but it sat on the shelf (as it is no small volume) for  a long time. I knew I needed something to complement the numerous first hand accounts I had read, to try and to get a wider picture of the conflict. I relished Ken Burns marvellous TV documentary series and it stands out for its graphic imagery and cinematography. The hurdle of "reading about it" (a much more intimate process) defeated me though. As a second best (listening to it) Audible came to my aid. Max Hasting's "Vietnam" via Audible has become a friend on car journeys and dog walks, telling a very dark history with my hard copy flicked through for reference points of maps and pictures (see below, Max Hastings certainly pulls no punches with his views on the American politicians and Generals, which in his capacity as a reporter, he met first hand, from the likes of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert McNamara; absolutely fascinating): 

Update I: Just over a third of the way through this book and it is truly an epic journey, masterfully told. Starting with Vietnams earliest modern colonial history and disputed WWII ownership, through the French post WWII period in Indo China and finally into its most turbulent and troublesome times with the active American involvement. Still twenty hours to go! Gripping! Highly recommended.

Update II: Coming to the final few chapters and I honestly cannot believe the twists and turns - trials and tribulations that South Vietnam went through. As much as the pre-American deployment history was new to me, the post American withdrawal, political cynicism and huge battles (AVRN supported by US air power) that followed were equally "new" to my previously selective history (Platoon and The Deer Hunter) of the period. Everyone could see it was not going to end well and it didn't! I literally don't want to hear the next chapter unfold.

Update III: Finished. And the avoidable horror happened all teh way to the end of this tragic period of history. The gut-retching senselessness of it all and then the haunting words that Max Hastings penned, to parallel the folly of the 1960's and 10970's to subsequent Iraqi and Afghanistan events. To quote a US Cavalry Troop commander from Iraqi, "There was nothing to hang any success onto". No fabric or structure that was not alien to the indigenous peoples that we (the Western World) were supposed to be helping!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Couldn't agree more.. but I read it.. took me a while though!

Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

Luckily I had a few long journeys and dog walking to keep me going through the chapters