Book Review: Beyond the Quagmire: New Interpretations of the Vietnam War


by Geoffrey W. Jensen & Matthew W. M. Smith, editors

Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2019. Pp. xiv, 426. Illus., map, notes, index. $29.95. ISBN: 1574417487

Revisiting Vietnam

The editors have collected a baker’s dozen of essays that take a fresh look at various aspects of the Vietnam experience through the lens of over four decades of research, analysis, and memory. The papers are grouped into three categories.

“The Politics of War”, looks at subjects such as rural development and the consequences of the “secret war” in Laos.

“The Combatants and Their War”, includes essays on the experience of American women in the war, the role of military advisors, and the deterioration of the relations between the Vietnamese and Chinese communist regimes.

“Remembering Vietnam” includes several essays on various aspects of remembrance, such as Vietnam war comics and monuments and memorials.

Several of the essays stand out.

“A Parable of Persisting Failure”, by Prof. Jensen (Emory-Riddle), is quite enlightening about the much-maligned “Project 100,000”, which was by no means a radical departure from previous practice, and was more successful than is usually claimed.

Also of note is “They Got Out of that Place”, by veteran and historian Doug Bradley, which explores the extent to which music has played a major role in the memories of Vietnam veterans and how this music contributes to a better understanding of the war.

Although an essay or two on the evolution of the post-war relationship between the United States and Vietnam might have been useful, Beyond the Quagmire is a very valuable work for anyone with an interest in the Vietnam War or American policy in Asia.


Note: Beyond the Quagmire is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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