Why Vietnam; When Governments Collide: Coercion and Diplomacy in the Vietnam Conflict, 1964-1968

In This Review

Why Vietnam

By Archimedes L.A. Patti
University of California Press, 1980
612 pp. $19.50
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When Governments Collide: Coercion and Diplomacy in the Vietnam Conflict, 1964-1968

By Wallace J. Thies
University of California Press, 1980
465 pp. $20.00
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These works offer yet more reappraisals of the Vietnam experience at two vastly different stages in the conflict. The first, by the former head of the Office of Strategic Service's Indochina mission in the 1940s, provides considerable information on the U.S. involvement in Vietnam during 1940-1954, when the French were dominant. The 1945 American contacts with Ho Chi Minh are of special interest. The second book picks up where the first leaves off and examines both U.S. and North Vietnamese policymaking from 1954 on. Focusing on the Johnson Administration's policy, the author uses this as a case study of the shortcomings of "limited/coercive war." He concludes that the Administration's failures were not the result of arrogance, or lack of resolve, but rather of an inability to grasp the complexity of the opponent's political system and the actors within it.