Vietnam : An Epic History of a Divisive War 1945-1975

4.19 (4,833 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 11-14 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


`Even by Hastings's own standards, this is 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.
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 752 pages
  • 159 x 240 x 52mm | 1,160g
  • William Collins
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • edition
  • 9780008132989
  • 21,147

Review quote

`A masterpiece' FRANK SCOTTON

`Max Hastings has done it again. This book is a tour de force, a deft, engrossing, and admirably fair-minded chronicle of the three-decades-long struggle for Vietnam. It's narrative history at its very finest.' FREDRIK LOGEVALL, Harvard University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of `Embers of War'

`The `bible` for anyone who wants to understand the war.' GENERAL WALT BOOMER, US MARINE VIETNAM VETERAN

``Vietnam' appears just in time to help explain the tragedy of that war not only to many who lived through it, but also to new generations of readers who inherited its legacy ... Hastings reveals human tragedies that highlight the importance of clear thinking about complex problems, integrity in national security decision making, and a sensitivity to the limits of agency and control in war.' H.R. MCMASTER, author of `Dereliction of Duty'

`Hastings's meticulously researched, superbly written account will now become the standard by which all other histories of the Vietnam War are judged. He leaves no stone unturned in examining three decades of conflict from the vantage points of all combatants at all levels' MARK CLODFELTER, professor at National War College and author of `The Limits of Air Power'

`A characteristically brilliant, monumental work that masterfully presents the political, cultural, military and social factors that produced the most divisive and disastrous conflict in American history. Hastings synthesizes innumerable sources, including many from North Vietnam, that, in an unflinching, clear-eyed manner capture the brutality of both sides in this war, as well as the heroism and ineptitude, the public confidence and inner doubts that resulted in the tragedy that was Vietnam - a war that Hastings implies neither side deserved to win.' GENERAL DAVID PATRAEUS, chairman, KKR Global Institute, and former commander of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, former commander of U.S. Central Command, and former director of the CIA
show more

About Max Hastings

Max Hastings chronicles Vietnam with the benefit of vivid personal memories: first of reporting in 1967-68 from the United States, where he encountered many of the war's decision-makers including President Lyndon Johnson, then of successive assignments in Indochina for newspapers and BBC TV: he rode a helicopter out of the US Saigon embassy compound during the 1975 final evacuation. He is the author of twenty-six books, most about conflict, and between 1986 and 2002 served as editor-in-chief of the Daily Telegraph, then editor of the Evening Standard. He has won many prizes both for journalism and his books, of which the most recent are All Hell Let Loose, Catastrophe and The Secret War, best-sellers translated around the world. He has two grown-up children, Charlotte and Harry, and lives with his wife Penny in West Berkshire, where they garden enthusiastically.
show more

Rating details

4,833 ratings
4.19 out of 5 stars
5 47% (2,275)
4 35% (1,715)
3 10% (498)
2 4% (192)
1 3% (153)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X