In this first half of what is to be a two-part inquiry into why North Vietnam was able to defeat the South, Veith examines the military encounters of the last stages of the war. (The second volume will consider the war’s politics and diplomacy.) Veith’s intensive research and interviews, which make use of Vietnamese as well as American sources, yield a level of detail that is a bit overwhelming and likely to deter all but the most enthusiastic readers. The book is nonetheless a service to military history, for no one has produced nearly as thorough an account of these events. Veith argues that the South Vietnamese army was unfairly blamed for its own defeat and demonstrates that its incompetence was overstated. Although he accepts that senior South Vietnamese commanders made mistakes, he believes that the real reasons for the South’s defeat were North Vietnam’s failure to abide by the Paris peace accords and the United States’ failure to provide the South Vietnamese with the material support they deserved.
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