Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam, 1945-1995
Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945-1995, is a book that was written by Olson, James Stuart and Randy Robert . it was published on June 1st 1991 by St Martins Pr. This book recounts the history of American operations in Vietnam from the end of the second world war. It clarifies American political aims for the involvement, their military strategy as well as the social and economic factors that motivated the involvement. The book provides an accessible as well as a brief account of the history of the Vietnam conflict. The book further gives its readers an insight into the modern history of Vietnam. This history starts at the end of the second world war up to the time of American invasion. The book also explains the first as well as the second Indochina war and goes ahead to explain the consequences of the Vietnam war today. The book’s second edition examines Vietnam through Oliver Stone’s films thereby opening up a discussion of the war in popular culture. The book contains a chronology, a glossary as well as a bibliography all of which play a very important role in giving the reader a helpful reference.
This book is especially designed for students and is written in a way that the target group finds it very friendly to interact with. The authors of the book clearly explain how America fought the war and the reasons for failures. The book analyzes the reasons contributing to the failure as well as how they reacted to the their failure to win. The purpose of this book is to give its readers who are mostly students a comprehensive as well as unbiased view of the war in Vietnam. Before an in-depth analysis of the war, a background explanation as far as the developments before, during and after the war is important. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were all under the French control in the early twentieth century. However, during the second world war, the Japanese fought and took control of Vietnam but eventually surrendered in 1945 (Olson e tal 70).
The alliance for the independence of Vietnam however fought back and managed to seize control of the northern part of the country in the same year. This alliance was a communist controlled alliance under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh (Olson e tal 75). This formed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. France eventually lost its control over Vietnam to the Vietminh despite the colossal military support they got from the American forces. This was in the year 1954 (Olson e tal 80). The same year the French threw in the towel, Vietnam was divided into two distinct zones. Ho Chi Minh’s government controlled the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh’s government enjoyed back up from the Chinese as well as the soviet union. The southern part of Vietnam was controlled by the Bao Dai with the support of the American Government. The president of South Vietnam, Bao Dai however went into exile in 1955 as a result of a referendum that abolished the monarchy (Olson e tal 110). This referendum was engineered by the prime minister of the country, Ngo Dinh Diem. Elections were scheduled to take place in 1956 following this exile. This however didn’t happen. This flop saw the prime minister and the U.S. come up with a plot to ensure that the Geneva accords were not implemented. This is because they feared that the failure to hold the elections would lead to the success of Bao Dai (Olson e tal 170).
A second Indochina war erupted in 1960 after opponents of the southern Vietnamese regime came together to form the National Liberation Front (NLF) (Olson e tal 200). This alliance started the war. Diem’s regime decided to turn to undemocratic policies following a series of wars in several villages in south Vietnam. Diem was assassinated in 1963 although the general population didn’t have much credence in the Saigon governments due to rampant corruption in them (Olson e tal 211). The conflict between the North and South Vietnam spiraled out of control in the year 1965. The U.S. government therefore decided to deploy massive ground forces to restore sanity though this was done without prior consent from the Vietnams. The deployment was so high that by 1968, the number of American Ground forces occupying south Vietnam stood at half a million (Olson e tal 270).
The Vietnam war was regarded a civil war since, after the country was divided into a northern and a southern part, North Vietnam left cadres behind and hid ammunition (Olson e tal 320). It then secretly organized rebellion in the south. The south responded by starting a violent anti-communist campaigns which saw the arrest and massacre of communist cadres. The communists responded by organizing terrorist activities targeting the southern government officials which saw the death of a large number of them. The nationalist parties lost because they had several weaknesses. They were very poorly organized and larked a clearly defined strategy. They overly relied on the Chinese nationalist party oblivious of the fact that china and France supported each other in the war against Japan in Indochina (Olson e tal 324).
America basically replaced France in Indochina but its main participation started in 1965 to 1972 (Olson e tal 50). America supported the anticommunist forces especially in Laos and Cambodia. America carried out massive bombing with the aim of preventing North Vietnam from taking advantage of its neighbors by using them as supply bases for communist soldiers in the south. The first Indochina war was put to an end through the Geneva accord in the year 1954 while the second was ended by three treaties. The first treaty was signed in 1962 (Olson e tal 322). This was the Geneva accord for Laos. The second was the 1973 Paris accord for Vietnam and the last was the 1991 Paris accord for Cambodia. The war lasted until 1969 following the decision of the Nixon administration to carry out what it termed as the “Vietnamization program” by withdrawing its troops. However, the war between the nationalists and the communists continued up to 1975 following the collapse of the southern government (Olson e tal 330).
Critical Analysis of the War in the Book
One can comfortably argue that this book gives a clear as well as a critical approach in assessing the policy of the U.S. that governed the Vietnam society from the time of the war up to date. This makes the book therefore ideal for reading as well as teaching. The authors of this book, who are history professors have undeniably helped the human mind appreciate the importance of diplomacy and lawfulness even in times of distress. The authors have shown that Americans were able to steel a good reputation despite inflicting oppression on the Vietnams. The authors have managed to give readers an insight into the truth behind scenes of historical accounts of the situation through their critical analysis of the war.
One major implication of the reading is that, it gives a clear picture of what transpired during the war as well as what has happened as a result of the involvement up to date. The critical analysis of these issues by the authors has helped readers understand how the war has led to the current relationship between the two countries. The authors have though carefully selected only the information that supports their explanations of the historical event. This clearly means that, any events which are not valid as far as their explanations are concerned may not have been accounted for.
In conclusion, this paper has discussed Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945-1995, is a book that was written by Olson James Stuart and Randy Robert. This book explains that the role of the united states in the war began soon after the second world war and continued till after the Vietnam war which was witnessed between 1955 to 1975. American intervention in the war has been explained as the desire to prevent the communist domination of the south Vietnam. America focused to make the country increasingly democratic as well as to start mutually supporting actions in the political, military, and economic arenas. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have been said to have been all under the French control in the early twentieth century though the Japanese fought and took control before surrendering in 1945. The Northern part was communist while the southern part was nationalist. U.S., as discussed deployed troops in 1965 following an escalation of the war between the south and the north. The reasons for the failure of the nationalists have been discussed as: very poor organization and lark of a clearly defined strategy. They overly relied on the Chinese nationalist party oblivious of the fact that china and France supported each other in the war against Japan in Indochina. America has been said to have assisted the nationalists. The first Indochina war was put to an end through the Geneva accord in the year 1954 while the second was ended by three treaties: the 1962 Geneva accord for Laos, the 1973 Paris accord for Vietnam and the 1991 Paris accord for Cambodia. The war between nationalists and communists has though been said to have ended in 1975 following the collapse of the southern government.