THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
`A masterful performance' Sunday Times
`Magnificent... One by one, the sacred canons of right and left are obliterated. The war is laid bare, with all its uncomfortable truths exposed' The Times
`An altogether magnificent historical narrative.' Tim O'Brien
Vietnam became the Western world's most divisive modern conflict, precipitating a battlefield humiliation for France in 1954, then a vastly greater one for the United States in 1975. Max Hastings has spent the past three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs, to create an epic narrative of an epic struggle. He portrays the set pieces of Dienbienphu, the Tet offensive, the air blitz of North Vietnam, and less familiar battles such as the bloodbath at Daido, where a US Marine battalion was almost wiped out, together with extraordinary recollections of Ho Chi Minh's warriors. Here are the vivid realities of strife amid jungle and paddies that killed 2 million people.
Many writers treat the war as a US tragedy, yet Hastings sees it as overwhelmingly that of the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American. US blunders and atrocities were matched by those committed by their enemies. While all the world has seen the image of a screaming, naked girl seared by napalm, it forgets countless eviscerations, beheadings and murders carried out by the communists. The people of both former Vietnams paid a bitter price for the Northerners' victory in privation and oppression. Here is testimony from Vietcong guerrillas, Southern paratroopers, Saigon bargirls and Hanoi students alongside that of infantrymen from South Dakota, Marines from North Carolina, Huey pilots from Arkansas.
No past volume has blended a political and military narrative of the entire conflict with heart-stopping personal experiences, in the fashion that Max Hastings' readers know so well. The author suggests that neither side deserved to win this struggle with so many lessons for the 21st century about the misuse of military might to confront intractable political and cultural challenges. He marshals testimony from warlords and peasants, statesmen and soldiers, to create an extraordinary record.
`Will surely set the benchmark for years to come... He has written many excellent histories, but this may be his best... Exhaustively researched and superbly written, it is both a balanced account of how and why the war unfolded as it did, and a gripping narrative on what it was like to take part...This is history as it should be: objective, immersive and compelling' Daily Telegraph, 5*
`Powerful and chilling... Hastings is masterful at describing the conditions faced by young American soldiers... Hastings is second to none in his ability to describe military strategy with a clarity that makes things entirely understandable to the layman' Mail on Sunday, 5*
`A masterpiece' FRANK SCOTTON
`Magnificent, his best work ... full of extraordinary and compelling detail and thoroughly informed by his own personal experience of so much of the war. It's written in unputdownable style, with a dispassionate, liberal-minded understanding of the detail of the war, which draws on testimony from every side and doesn't favour anyone. I've never read a better history of the wars in Vietnam, and it's hard to see how anyone will be able to improve on this' John Simpson
`The last word on the tactical and military chronicle of the war, the main reference book for schools and universities for future generations' Evening Standard
`Neophytes and experts alike will find Hastings's book stimulating, informative - and above all, riveting' New Statesman
`This fabulous work offers up a gut-wrenching glimpse of the reality of war' The Sun, 5*
`Max Hastings's big, bold, brilliant account of `Nam... is crammed with detail, cameo and insight ... a stellar stand-out book' Sunday Express
`Impressive... Hastings shines in his ability to let those who experienced the war tell their stories... Makes for a fast-paced, poignant and often eye-opening read' Literary Review
`A work of considerable quality, marked by a possibly unique combination of military expertise, historical grasp and journalistic skill' Observer