Cover image for Where the domino fell : America and Vietnam, 1945-1990
Where the domino fell : America and Vietnam, 1945-1990
Olson, James Stuart, 1946-
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Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1991.
Physical Description:
xi, 321 pages ; 25 cm
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DS558 .O45 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS558 .O45 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to the authors of this compact history of the war and its aftermath, what began as a righteous crusade to save Southeast Asia from communism ended up as ``a face-saving game to get out of an impossible mess without looking bad.'' Olson and Roberts (history professors at Sam Houston State University in Texas and Purdue University in Indiana, respectively) chronicle the course of the first and second Indochina wars from the Vietnamese, French and American points of view, tracing the U.S. commitment from the earliest OSS aid mission in 1945 to the humiliating pullout in '73. The book is highly readable, succinct in style and full of surprises: Ho Chi Minh's prediction that Americans' inherent impatience would doom their effort in the end; reviews of postwar Vietnamese movies about the anti-imperialist struggle; an analysis of America's efforts to come to terms with the defeat in Southeast Asia as reflected in popular culture. The authors are blunt, occasionally arbitrary in their opinions, arguing, for instance, that the most effective U.S. pacification effort was the Marines' CAP program, a promising but relatively minor affair prematurely canceled. Photos. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

This is one of a number of new survey histories primarily marketed as texts for use in Vietnam War courses. Although Olson (Sam Houston State) edited Dictionary of the Vietnam War (CH, Jul'88), the two authors are not Vietnam specialists. The narrative is drawn exclusively from secondary sources, but the authors seem to have good command of the literature. The opening chapter capsules Vietnamese history from antiquity to 1945, and the volume proceeds forward with units on the standard chronological periods. An interesting chapter on the 1975-1990 period focuses on popular culture, particularly the large number of Vietnam movies. The book compares favorably with the other similar new volumes such as Anthony James Joes's The War for South Viet Nam, 1954-1975 (CH, Sep'89); George Donelson Moss's Vietnam: An American Ordeal (1990); and Gary R. Hess's Vietnam and the United States (CH, Apr'91). Good bibliography, chronology, glossary and list of acronyms. Recommended for undergraduate and public libraries as a very readable source for general readers. -J. P. Dunn, Converse College