Books about Vietnam

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These are books I can recommend if you want to get good background knowledge as well as up-to-date information on Vietnam. I limited my personal comments to the books to a minimum. Click on the link at each individual book listing to learn more (summaries, commentaries from authors, editors, and readers) at Amazon, where you can also order directly if you want. Just click on the title of each individual book you are interested in.

Top 10 compiled by an expert
Vietnam War General history

Vietnam War Personal accounts
Vietnam War Novels
Traveling to Vietnam (and Laos, Cambodia) today

Vietnam war

Top 10 from a Vietnam savy

These are the personal Top 10 recommendations of a Vietnam veteran. The chopper pilot who fought in 1966/67 has returned to live in the region. Out of the 15 years in South East Asia after the war, he has spent eight in the former war zone. He has read every possible book you can imagine. No comments necessary from my side. By the way, he mentioned once that Apocalypse Now was - in his view - the most accurate Vietnam fiction movie. 

1) The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire - by Brian Crozier

List Price: $35.00
Amazon US Price: $24.50

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2) Viet Nam. The origins of revolution. - by John T. Mc Alister, Jr.

3) America in Vietnam : A Documentary History - by William A. Williams (ed.)
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4) Fire in the Lake : The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam - by Frances FitzGerald
List Price: $17.00
Amazon US Price: $13.60

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5) Pavn : People's Army of Vietnam - by Douglas Pike

6) Viet Cong : The Organization and Techniques of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam - by Douglas Pike

7) Backfire : A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did - by Loren Baritz

List Price: $16.95
Amazon US Price: $14.41

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8) Long Time Passing : Vietnam and the Haunted Generation - by Myra MacPherson

9) Dispatches - by Michael Herr
List Price: $12.00
Amazon US Price: $9.60
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10) The Sorrow of War : A Novel of North Vietnam - by Bao Ninh

List Price: $12.95
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Vietnam : A History - by Stanley Karnow (June 1997)
Neutral account of the Vietnam War - from the political-military and the personal perspective. Good introduction.

America's Longest War : The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (America in Crisis) - by George Herring

The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990 - by Marilyn B. Young  (September 1991)
Complete account of the French and American phases of the war, and everything that happened afterwards.

The Secret War Against Hanoi : Kennedy and Johnson's Use of Spies, Saboteurs, and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam - by Richard H., Jr., Shultz (December 1999)
Documents covert actions in Vietnam, starting in 1961.

After Tet : The Bloodiest Year in Vietnam - by Ronald H. Spector
Goes beyond the TV pictures of the Tet offensive. Most brutal phase of the war. Many photos.

In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam - by Brian Vandemark and Robert S. Mc Namara (March 1996)
Robert Mc Namara - who served under two administrations as Secretary of Defense comes out saying the war was "terribly wrong", but not the values behind it.

Argument Without End : In Search of Answers to the Vietnam Tragedy - by Robert S. McNamara (Preface), James G. Blight, Robert K. Brigham, Biersteker, Herbert Y. Schandler (May 1999)
The title says it all - the scholarly debate will continue.

Choosing War : The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam - by Fredrik Logevall (July 1999)
Contrary to the next book in the list, this book states that the escalation could have been avoided.

Vietnam the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict - by Michael Lind (October 1999)
Very controversial new assessment.

Personal accounts

Vietcong Memoir - by Troung Nhu Tang, Doan Van Toai, Van Toai Doan (June 1986)
What about getting the other side's point of view first?

Vietnam Voices : Perspectives on the War Years 1941-1975 (November 1988)
First-hand, unedited accounts about the French and American period of the Vietnam war.

365 Days - by Ronald J. Glassner, Ronald Glassner
Tells you what it was like to be a simple soldier in the Vietnam war.

Four Hours in My Lai - by Michael Bilton, Kevin Sim (March 1993)
A complete account of the massacre that killed the most innocent civilians in the shortest period of time during the Vietnam conflict. If you want to talk about war crimes today in the Balkans, you must first read this book.

Platoon - Bravo Company- by Robert Hemphill, Joseph L. Galloway, Pia S., Ph.d. Seagrave (October 1998)
You've seen the movie? These real platoons were not happy with how Bravo Company was portrayed.

Acceptable Loss - by Kregg, P.J. Jorgenson (December 1995)
The true-to-life story of a volunteer Ranger, racing to the aid of soldiers who faced the same dangers he had barely survived in the jungles of Vietnam.

Memories of a Pure Spring - by Thu Hng Dng, Duong Thu Huong, Nina McPherson, Huy Ng Phan
Vietnamese dissident author Huong critisizes the Vietnamese Communist party. Focused on people working in the arts. 


The 100th Kill : A Novel of Vietnam - by Charles W. Sasser (February 1997)
To kill 100 human beings in the name of freedom.

Traveling to Vietnam

Lonely Planet Vietnam - (5th edition, April 1999)
If you have only one book to take with you to Vietnam today, take this one. Lonely Planet's travel guide's are simply the best. The same applies to the following LP books.

Lonely Planet Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Guide - by Robert Storey (coming up October 2000)
Portofrei jetzt schon bestellen bei Amazon D/CH/F.

Lonely Planet Hanoi - by Mason Florence (August 1999)
Order from Amazon US. Portofrei bestellen bei Amazon D/CH/F.

Lonely Planet Laos - by Joe Cummings, 3rd edition (October 1998)

Lonely Planet Cambodia - by Nick Ray (3rd edition, May 2000)
Cambodia has become safe for traveling since 1998. Indispensable for any trip to one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It's coming out in May 2000, but you can already order it at Amazon US. Oder hier portofrei von Amazon D. 

Lonely Planet Thailand - by Joe Cummings (August 1999)
Portofrei bei Amazon D/CH/.

Lonely Planet: South East Asia on a Shoestring (10th edition, August 1999)
The classic if you plan to visit several countries in South East Asia. Invaluable if your travel plans are not fix and you may just go to somewhere... The Cambodia part is updated with some less-known regions. Portofrei bestellen bei Amazon D/CH/F.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos Handbook - by Michael Buckley (2nd edition, September 1998)
The only thing that can compare to Lonely Planet. Michael has also very considerable background information. Portofrei bestellen bei Amazon.D/CH/F.

Lonely Planet Travel Atlas Thailand, Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia (August 2000; orders already possible)

South East Asia Map - Harper Collins (October 1998)