SOCIAL SCIENCES

Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

Atlantic. Jun. 2017. 608p. photos. maps. notes. ISBN 9780802127006. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780802189240. HIST
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In early 1968, North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces launched the Tet Offensive, a series of hundreds of attacks throughout South Vietnam, the largest of which took place in the symbolically significant former royal capital of Hue. Bowden (writer in residence, Univ. of Delaware; The Three Battles of Wanat) provides a thorough description of the Battle of Hue by examining the experiences of soldiers and civilians on all sides of the conflict. This work argues that Gen. William Westmorland's fixation on the false notion that the Tet Offensive was a deliberate misdirection from North Vietnam's real target of Khe Sanh led to poor decisions by the U.S. military that resulted in the prolongation of the Battle of Hue. The author makes a strong case that this conflict had a lasting impact on the course of the Vietnam War, the significance of which has yet to be properly analyzed by the historic literature.
VERDICT Although the gruesome details of death and dismemberment may prove difficult reading for some, this work provides a fascinating look at the challenges and horrors of urban warfare and is essential for anyone interested in the Vietnam War.
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