The best Vietnam War nonfiction books

James McLeroy Author Of Bait: The Battle of Kham Duc
By James McLeroy

The Books I Picked & Why

The Vietnam War Reexamined

By Michael G. Kort

The Vietnam War Reexamined

Why this book?

The Vietnam War cannot be understood without understanding two opposing groups of historians of it: the orthodox and the revisionist. This is the most concise, balanced, and objective analysis of those contradictory versions of the war. The leftist version is an anti-war, anti-U.S. military, anti-South Vietnamese government interpretation that sees the war as unwinnable and morally shameful U.S. imperialism. It rejects all revisionist arguments to the contrary, such as the difference between the U.S. political failure in America and the U.S. military success in Vietnam, as "conservative counterfactual speculation".


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Vietnam at War: The History: 1946-1975

By Phillip B. Davidson

Vietnam at War: The History: 1946-1975

Why this book?

Balanced, objective, and authoritatively informed, this is the best single military history of both the First Indochina War (1945 to 1954) and the Second Indochina War (1957 to 1975). Lt. General Davidson was the intelligence chief for two Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) commanders, General Westmoreland and General Abrams. His book provides the background information and expert analysis necessary for understanding what is called the Vietnam War in America and the American War in Vietnam.


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A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

By Lewis Sorley

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

Why this book?

This is the best military history of the war from mid-1968 to 1974 during the MACV command of General Abrams. It is essential for understanding the U.S. troop withdrawal period and the combat performance of the revitalized South Vietnamese Army. With his Vietnam staff service, CIA experience, and Ph.D. in history, Sorley provides a unique revisionist narrative and in-depth analysis of those critical but ignored and misinterpreted years. 


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Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect

By U.S. Grant Sharp

Strategy for Defeat: Vietnam in Retrospect

Why this book?

As a Vietnam combat veteran at the height of the Vietnam War, I was and still am infuriated by the gross misrepresentation of the war by the U.S. media. It conceals the extreme vulnerability of North Vietnam, where the war originated and was always controlled, to a truly strategic air campaign that could have ended the war in less than a year and made their conquest of South Vietnam impossible. This book by the former commander of all U.S. forces in SE Asia explains exactly how.


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Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

By Lien-Hang T. Nguyen

Hanoi's War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam

Why this book?

This is the only insider, in-depth analysis of the North Vietnamese Politburo and its effective leader, Le Duan, from 1960 to 1975. Because the author is a native Vietnamese speaker, an academic historian,  and opposes the U.S. role in the war she was allowed by the Communist government to spend years in North Vietnam researching in previously closed archives. Her book, published in the U.S. free of censorship, is not Communist propaganda. It is a unique, objectively critical, revisionist analysis of the men who started and controlled the “war for peace” from beginning to end. 


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