Do we need another book on the Vietnam War? Pierre Asselin
, Dwight E. Stanford Chair in the History of US Foreign Relations at San Diego State University, thinks that we do. While he has already published A Bitter Peace: Washington, Hanoi, and the Making of the Paris Agreement
(2002) and Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965
(2013), he argues that far too much of the English language scholarship on the war has failed to explain the Vietnamese Communists’ perspective. He holds that a number of myths about Hanoi’s war with America continue to circulate. However, with Vietnam’s American War: A History
(Cambridge University Press, 2018), Asselin addresses this shortcoming and offers a fresh and challenging narrative of the war.
Based on extensive research in Vietnamese archives not previously accessed by foreigners, Vietnam’s American War
is an iconoclastic revision of the history of the war. Amongst the various topics Asselin considers are the secret power struggle between the moderate Ho Chi Minh and the hawkish Le Duan, the impact of the Tet Offensive on the North Vietnamese regime, and Hanoi’s difficulties in mobilizing the population for war. This conversation is sure to challenge some of what you think you know about the American War in Vietnam.
Michael G. Vann
is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam
(Oxford, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.