A Time of War: The United States and Vietnam, 1946-1975 by Robert D. Schulzinger
The book is based on new archival materials available in the 20th century. The materials necessitated the development of new investigations into the events of Vietnam War. The book ‘A Time of War’ highlights the events that occurred during the Vietnam War (Schulzinger 10). In the book, the author aims at illustrating the events of the war in the context of the 20th century history and international politics. Some of the events include the United States’ domestic politics that led to the country’s involvement in the war and the position of Congress on the war. In addition, the book outlines how the events of the war unfolded and the organizations and movements for and against the Vietnam War. The events associated with Vietnam War which instigated the Cold War are also analyzed.
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The Author’s approach to the events of the Vietnam War
The first chapter of the book addresses the events that took place before the war began in 1946. These events relate to the activities and interests of the Americans, the French and Vietnamese which preceded the beginning and the aftermath of the war (Schulzinger 3). The beginning of the 20th century marked the end of the long pre-eminence of the European powers as a result of the First and the Second World Wars. This also resulted from increased anti-colonial confrontations that occurred in Africa and parts of Asia. One of the most notable regions where this occurred includes the Southern and South-East Asia region. Japanese victory in most of its previous wars with various European countries was seen as one of the reasons why most Southern and South-East Asian countries such as Burma, the Philippines, Indochina and Malaya began to develop resistance towards European superiority in the region (Schulzinger 4).
The most noticeable turn of events which occurred during this period involved the nationalism of activities in Indochina against foreign forces in their land. The participants included the provinces under the French control. Some of these regions include Annam, Cochin China and Tonkin which comprise of the modern Vietnam (Schulzinger 4). The French forces later regained control over Indochina until its fall during the 2nd World War. As a result, most Vietnamese activists became encouraged to fight against other foreign forces in their land.
Before the development of a strong relationship between Vietnam and other European countries, Vietnam had well established relationship with China and India. As a result, most of their religious beliefs were adopted from these countries. As a result of Chinese dominance in their region, the Vietnamese began opposing China’s involvement in their internal affairs (Schulzinger 5). This marked the beginning of the Vietnamese struggle for political autonomy. However, Vietnam had difficulties with regard to resisting invasion by other foreign countries. This arose from the prevailing political and social instability in the country. As a result, the French capitalized on these weaknesses and through their divisive rule, they were able to rule the country for a considerable duration during the 19th Century. However, the foreign forces that were charged with the responsibility of ruling Vietnam failed to develop consistent rules of the colonial government (Schulzinger 6).
The author addresses the role played by Ho Chi Minh with regard to the rise of nationalism in Vietnam during the 20th Century against the perceived arrogant ruling tactics of the French (Schulzinger 7). The events which followed the rise of nationalism such as the Great Depression of 1930 and the 2nd World War helped the Vietnamese in opposing the French rule (Schulzinger 12). During this period, other superior forces such as the U.S, Great Britain and the Soviet Union did not perceive the importance of being involved with the activities that were taking place in the Southern Asia. However, President Roosevelt’s view on colonialism and the activities of European forces in Asia changed the United States’ approach and policies (Schulzinger 12). Roosevelt proposed the development of a trusteeship program which would be used in ruling Indochina before it regained independence. Resistance from other European forces and some sections of the U.S government led to the collapse of the program. Subsequent events that followed include the rise and fall of the Japanese rule in Indochina after the fall of the French in addition to the 1945 Vietnamese Revolution. The revolution was as a result of the Japanese oppressive rule in Indochina and the emergence of the Cold war (Schulzinger 19).
The second chapter analyzes the events which occurred after the 2nd World War. For example, the relationship between the Vietnamese and the French worsened leading into a conflict between the two countries in 1946 (Schulzinger 29). In addition, the divergent views between the French military and the civilians led into failure of the French forces in controlling the rebellious Vietnamese. The subsequent war-like events which followed drew the attention of United State which wanted a political settlement between the two warring parties to be reached (Schulzinger 30). However, the French forces were not ready to accept any help from the U.S. The book further analyzes the participation of the U.S government in the activities taking place in the Indochina region. This forced the French to look for alternative ways of dealing with the Vietnamese and the popularity of Ho by seeking the help of Bao Dai who was in exile in Hong Kong. They finally managed to set up a southern government under the leadership of Bao Dai (Schulzinger 36). On the other hand, Ho established control over the northern and the central parts of the country. This marked the success of the Vietnamese activists in driving out the foreign forces. The subsequent chapters of the book address the events which followed division of the republic of Vietnam into northern and southern sections. These include the war that broke out between Vietnam and U.S (Schulzinger 328).
In the book, the author has managed to capture the prerequisites of the thesis statement through use of first hand and unpublished materials that few texts and authors have used in addressing the events of the Vietnam War. The book was published when there were sufficient materials in the archives. This enabled the author to amass a wide range of untold stories and events related to Vietnam War.
The wide range of unpublished materials and archives from United States, Canada and Europe provide different perspectives of the different authors and participants of the Vietnam War. However, the content of the book may be challenged by other scholars due to the author’s complete reliance on unpublished and secondary literature which contains information that has not been verified and may be untrue or wrongly interpreted.
The book is well organized judging from the way in which the topics are arranged. The book begins by giving a detailed summary of the subsequent chapters in the preface. It also has a well stipulated thesis statement. The topics and the chapters are chronologically organized beginning with the events that preceded the beginning of the war to the main events which occurred during and after the war. In addition, the events which depicted the end of Vietnam War are also evaluated.
The book is written in plain and simple English which makes it easy for most people to follow its content. Inclusion of maps on specific places in the book makes it easy to follow the content. In summary the book has managed to satisfy the current topic’s requirements by providing a wide range of well researched materials regarding Vietnam War.
Schulzinger, Robert. A time for war: the United States and Vietnam, 1946-1975. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print.