People of various political stripes in many countries (particularly those countries where various political stripes are allowed) have been arguing about the Vietnam War...

People of various political stripes in many countries (particularly those countries where various political stripes are allowed) have been arguing about the Vietnam War for a long time. The participants in these debates were (and are) always quick to assign blame in what seems to be an endless attempt to justify “their side” and vilify “the other side.”

In this context, Max Hastings’ new book Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975 (HarperCollins, 2018) comes as something of a relief, for he essentially says that all the “sides” in the war made a moral mess of things. According to Hastings, the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese, the French, and the Americans were all guilty as sin of cynically starting, ruthlessly fighting, and stubbornly continuing a conflict that was, if not “unnecessary,” at least not worth it for any of them. In Hastings’ very readable account, everyone gets their hands very dirty indeed. Listen in.

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