This controversial and timely book about the American experience in Vietnam provides the first full exploration of the perspectives of the North Vietnamese leadership before, during, and after the war. Herbert Y. Schandler offers unique insights into the mindsets of the North Vietnamese and their response to diplomatic and military actions of the Americans, laying out the full scale of the disastrous U.S. political and military misunderstandings of Vietnamese history and motivations. Including frank quotes from Vietnamese leaders, the book offers important new knowledge that allows us to learn invaluable lessons from the perspective of a victorious enemy.
Unlike most military officers who served in Vietnam, Schandler is convinced the war was unwinnable, no matter how long America stayed the course or how many resources were devoted to it. He is remarkably qualified to make these judgments as an infantry commander during the Vietnam War, a Pentagon policymaker, and a scholar who taught at West Point and National Defense University. His extensive personal interviews with North Vietnamese are drawn from his many trips to Hanoi after the war. Schandler provides not only a definitive analysis of the American failure in Vietnam but a crucial foundation for exploring the potential for success in the current guerrilla wars the United States is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Herbert Y Schandler —
Colonel Herbert Y. Schandler (Ret) was George C. Marshall Professor of Grand Strategy at National Defense University.
Chapter 1: The Illusion of Military Victory Chapter 2: The Enemy Chapter 3: The American Commitment Chapter 4: The Road to War Chapter 5: America Enters the War Chapter 6: The Air War: The Futile Effort to Break Hanoi's Will Chapter 7: The Ground War Chapter 8: The Tet Offensive Chapter 9: The American Economy: Guns and Butter? Chapter 10: The Nixon Presidency Conclusion Epilogue
Schandler, Herbert Y. America in Vietnam: the war that couldn't be won. Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. 209p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780742566972. Reviewed in 2010jun CHOICE.
Schandler, a retired US Army colonel and veteran of the Vietnam War, has produced a brief overview of US involvement in the Vietnam War. What makes this work unique is that the author offers insight into North Vietnamese perceptions of the war by including discussions and interviews with former officials he encountered during a series of conferences held in Hanoi in 1998 and 1999. Aptly titled, this work successfully refutes the revisionist interpretation that the war in Vietnam could have been won if US political and military leaders had not made poor decisions. Schandler asserts that from the beginning, Washington was mistaken in its belief that an international communist conspiracy was behind the war in Vietnam. Although North Vietnam did get assistance from China and the USSR, Ho Chi Minh was primarily a nationalist whose main objective was Vietnamese independence and unification. The author contends that the US could never have won the war, because armed force could not have defeated Vietnamese nationalism. Additionally, the US objective of establishing a viable, noncommunist South Vietnamese government could not have been achieved militarily.
Summing Up: Recommended. Libraries serving lower- and upper-division undergraduates. -- C. G. Frentzos, Austin Peay State University
Schandler . . . views the Vietnam War through the eyes of the North Vietnamese, a perspective sadly lacking during that disastrous conflict. . . . While helping Americans understand what went wrong in Vietnam, Schandler's message is even more important in helping recalibrate the chance for our success in the current guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A scholarly and well-written book that provides a unique perspective not only on America in Vietnam, but also on what the other side was thinking. . . . Highly recommended.
Relying extensively on sources in the former North Vietnam, Schandler illustrates how North Vietnamese perceptions of the struggle were never understood by American policymakers.
A competent summary of principal arguments holding that the United States embarked on a futile and misguided quest in Vietnam. . . . Both highly readable and thoughtfully argued. As a concise exposition on the inexorable logic of failure in Vietnam, it fulfills the author's intent and provides a good foundation for a nonspecialist seeking a basic explanation of America's withdrawal from Vietnam.
— Military Review
[Schandler] stands out, however, as the most significant orthodox scholar coming from a military background. . . . Schandler's account is especially useful in understanding civilian-military relations and North Vietnam's response to American warfare. The conclusions are well-stated and persuasive.