|Author||Phillip B. Davidson|
The History 1946-1975
Phillip B. Davidson,
a comprehensive ac-
count of the three wars which ravaged
Vietnam for thirty years. For the first time
these wars are shown from all sides, a view
possible by recently released class-
and other original sources.
The book focuses on the central character
in all three wars, North Vietnamese Senior
General Vo Nguyen Giap.
Lt. Gen. Davidson is a professional
soldier, intelligence specialist, and historian. He was actively engaged in the Vietnam War from 1967-1969 as chief military
intelligence officer in country (J-2,
and knows whereof he speaks. He provides
the answers to many of the haunting questions of the Vietnam Wars: with no previous
military education or experience
Giap become a great general and strategist;
why did the French lose at Dien Bien Phu;
did the United States slide into the
Vietnam War; what was the true nature of
the American surprise at Tet, 1968; what
really happened at the siege of Khe Sanh;
when and where did the United States consider using nuclear weapons and, finally,
how and why
did the United States lose
General Davidson worked on Vietnam
for eleven years to bring all these
told in depth,
and documented. Written forcefully with grac r and style, this book
is a major contribu*
ed on back flap)
VIETNAM AT WAR
VIETNAM AT WAR
Published by Presidio Press
All rights reserved.
part of this
book may be reproduced or
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Davidson, Phillip B., 1915-
Bibliography: p. 819
Indochinese War, 1946-1954.
Printed in the United States of
Volcano Under the Snow
The French Campaign, 1946-1947
The French Campaign, 1948-1949
Giap's First Offensive Campaign, 1950
Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
Giap's General Counteroffensive, January 1951-May
Winter-Spring Campaign, September 1952-May
The Origins of Dien Bien Phu, 21 May-20 November
Dien Bien Phu: Preparations for
Battle, 20 November
1953-13 March 1954
Dien Bien Phu: The Battle,
Dien Bien Phu: A Critique
VIETNAM AT WAR
3 The Year of Crisis, 1964
14 A War That Nobody Wanted, 1965
1 5 William Childs Westmoreland: The
"Oley's War," "Westy's War," and "Nobody's
The Best of Years and the Worst of Years,
The Tet Offensive, 1968
Decision, Dissent, and Defection, 1968
W. Abrams: One
of a Kind
Nixon's War: Peace With Honor, 1969
22 The Cambodian Raids of 1970
23 The Raid Too Far: Lam Son 719, 1971
24 Totus Porcus: The Whole Hog, 1972
25 An Indecent Interval, 1973-1974
26 Defeat, 1975
27 Why We Lost the War
to explain to
every battle in and over Vietnam and yet lost the war. Such
in the annals
of military history.
And we did lose the war. Our objective was to preserve South Vietnam
as an ''independent, non-Communist state," and we obviously failed
to do that. Refusing to accept this defeat, or saying that we won the
shooting war, may assuage our bruised egos, but it oversimplifies the
our understanding of
Faced with the task of finding out how we
search for the answer. After
occurred to me:
start at the
the not very original
to the thirties
United States' defeat in the seventies
to trace the
to tie this lengthy scenario together.
chose Sr. Gen.
the Vietminh, the
Vietnamese Communist Party, and the North Vietnamese
being formed and developed, in the
some way or some
Giap, longtime commander of the North
North Vietnam's minister of defense.
principal figure throughout the three wars
which ravaged Indochina: Indo-
between the Vietminh and the French, Indochina War II
between the United States/South Vietnam and North Vietnam/ Viet Cong,
and Indochina War III between North and South Vietnam. Only Ho
Chi Minh was more dominant
than Giap, but
VIETNAM AT WAR
died in 1969, well before the final
victory of 1975 and the
historic events leading to that triumph.
The focus on Giap gives other insights. Through him and his associates
how the war looked to the North Vietnamese. We can scrutinize
the internal disputes in the North Vietnam Politburo about the nature
of the conflict, and we can see the changes Giap made in strategy and
response to shifting circumstances. Finally, a study of Giap
reveals the unique strategy he and his cohorts conceived, developed,
and used against
lies in large
National Security Action
measure, then, with
288, March 17, 1964.
a deep debt of gratitude to those
write this book.
profound thanks go to that distinguished soldier, Gen. William C.
Westmoreland, the commander of United States forces in Vietnam from
1964-1968 and Chief of Staff, United States Army, from 1968-1972.
He gave me many
personal documents not heretofore
generously assisted throughout the book's preparation with advice, com-
not agree with everything
hasten to add that he probably does
have written here.
also indebted in
Walt W. Rostow, now a professor at the University
of Texas, Austin, and onetime national security adviser to President
Johnson during the critical period of the Vietnam War. Conversations
with him were essential in clarifying several crucial points and areas.
To Douglas Pike, the West's foremost authority on Vietnamese communism, I acknowledge another debt. He not only made available the invaluable resources of his Indochina Studies Program at the University of
California, Berkeley, but brought a unique insight into the strategy of
revolutionary war, North Vietnamese-style.
Col. John Schlight, U.S.
of the United States
Retired, and Mr. Arthur S.
Center of Military History furnished valuable
documents, maps, and photographs. Col. Dale E. Finkelstein, Judge
Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army, provided expert advice on the
rules of land warfare, while Maj. Gen. Rathvon McC. Tompkins, U.S.
Marine Corps, Retired, contributed valuable information regarding the
Khe Sanh and
the "water point" story.
thanks go to Mr.
VIETNAM AT WAR
Butcher and Miss Patricia Heaton of the
library for their long-term assistance.
owe a huge debt of
Army, not only for
gratitude to the late Col. Charles A.
Vietnam, during one of which
principal assistant. RIP, Charlie.
on this work, but for
two tours as an intelligence officer
had the honor to have him as my
his outstanding contributions during
Volcano Under the
evening news report showed an action shot
of the North Vietnamese hierarchy celebrating
Vietnam. From a platform
Pham Van Dong,
victory over South
of the Presidential Palace in Saigon,
Vietnamese premier, pointed
Giap, the North Vietnamese minister of defense and com-
armed forces. "There," proclaimed Dong, "is
" This was not the usual hyperbole of triumph;
this was a fitting tribute, for Giap commanded the North Vietnamese
armed forces from 1944, when it consisted of one platoon of thirtyfour men, until 1972 or 1973, when it became the third-largest army in
the world. He made war for over thirty years, and he beat the French,
the South Vietnamese, and, judged by the final results, the United States
of America. What is more unusual is that Giap had no prior schooling,
training, or experience to fit him for the role he played.
the architect of our victory.
Vo Nguyen Giap was
born in 1912
in the village
Quang Binh province, just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Quang Binh and the two neighboring provinces to the north, Ha Tinh
and Nghe An, form the North Vietnamese "panhandle," which is one
of Vietnam's most impoverished areas. Historically these three provinces
respect or sufferance for their governors, be they Chi-
nese, French, or even Vietnamese.
inhabitants revolted against the
Chinese; they rose up against the French in the 1880s and again in
VIETNAM AT WAR
1930; and they rebelled against North Vietnam's land reform program
no coincidence that the area produced not only Giap, but
Pham Van Dong and Ho Chi Minh as well.
Not much is known about Giap's parents. Some sources say that
his father was a scholar and a teacher; others state that he was only a
poor farmer. What is certain, however, is that the elder Giap was a
Vietnamese revolutionary. He took an active part in the uprisings against
the French in 1885 and 1888, and Giap grew up in an atmosphere filled
with revolutionary fervor and hatred for the French. 1
In 1924 Giap entered the Lycee National at Hue. It was an unusual
school, founded, ironically, by Ngo Dinh Kha, the father of Ngo Dinh
Diem, who would be a future leader of South Vietnam, and as such,
one of Giap's many adversaries. The older Ngo, a high-ranking mandarin,
wanted an institution in which exceptional Vietnamese boys could get
an integrated Vietnamese/Western education free of French influence.
testify to his success, including not
Ho Chi Minh and Pham Van Dong as well.
Giap launched his career as a covert revolutionary at the age of
fourteen. His guide into this murky underworld was Phan Boi Chau.
Chau had a long history as an anti-French agitator, and for his revolutionary activities, the French Surete drove him out of Vietnam to China.
There he came to know Ho Chi Minh, then going under one of his
innumerable aliases as Ly Thuy. Each headed a different Vietnamese
revolutionary group and therefore they were rivals. The French say that
and Giap, but
to the Surete in
Shanghai for 100,000
on two grounds: Chau's
arrest and trial would stir up a hotbed of resentment in Vietnam, which
was something the Revolution needed; and Ho needed his share of the
justified this treachery
Communist organization in Canton. 2
Phan Boi Chau was returned to Hanoi, tried and sentenced
to finance his
hard labor, but a few weeks later the French reduced his sentence to
Hue. The French not only
but they permitted
to receive visits, principally
schoolboys. Giap described these visits in his collection of writings,
The Military Art of People' s War: "Often he (Chau) told us about world
the walls of his house were portraits of
Sun Yat-sen, Lenin,
were of those youths so eagerly searching for the
on world affairs, Chau preached to the
In addition to his talks
Volcano Under the Snow
youths what he wrote in one of his books, that ".
up one day and fight for
day, woe to the French!" Sometime
Giap was pushed even
deeper into the revolutionary movement after he read a pamphlet written
Nguyen Ai Quoc
nationalist in exile,
Nguyen was another
of the ubiquitous
or 'Nguyen the Patriot.
Giap records that the pamphlet, entitled Colonialism on
was passed from hand to hand among the young revolutionaries,
also an alias).
inspired us with so
hatred, and thrilled us."
In 1927 Giap, with other students at the Lycee, launched a "quit
school" movement as a protest against some perceived French
was a "Children's Crusade" and, like the original, quickly collapsed.
Giap was expelled from school and went back to his home in the village
of An Xa. One day a friend from Hue visited him and they talked of
revolution and politics. Before the friend left An Xa, he recruited Giap
into the Tan Viet Party, whose aim was \
.to carry out first a national
revolution and then a world revolution." Although the Tan Viets were
not Communists, they tilted heavily in that direction.
Shortly thereafter, Giap, then about sixteen, returned to
of the party, serving with the Tan Viets
1930. In the spring of that year the Tan Viets (including Giap)
joined another nationalist group, the Viet
Nam Quoc Dan
abortive uprising against the French. Giap
arrested and sentenced
to three years in prison, but the length of his actual stay in jail is obscure.
he was imprisoned for two years; others believe he
spent only a few months in prison. At any rate Giap has always omitted
any discussion of the period between 1930 and 1932
his life. This
imprisonment, of whatever length, was not
provided him his
another revolutionary, a young
romantic interlude. In
named Minh Thai, who was to become
his first wife.
By 1932 he had somehow
ingratiated himself to the French,
with their consent he took and passed the difficult Baccalaureate in
of the nation's best university. Giap entered
when he gained a
He failed to obtain the Certificate of Administra-
the university in 1933 and remained there until 1937
Bachelor of Law degree.
the following year, however,
which would have permitted
did he win a Doctorate of
VIETNAM AT WAR
claim. His biography in the hands of the United States
he also gained the equivalent of a doctorate
but other sources dispute
in political science,
student at the University at that time," but noted that
"he was a young
eager to learn, but introverted." During his student days
scholastic aptitude there
One of his
Giap read every available book on history and communism.
same period he met Pham Van Dong, now premier of North
Vietnam, and Truong Chinh, the Party's leading theoretician. Chinh
converted Giap to doctrinaire
communism, and Giap joined
nist Party in 1937.
economy, but his academic
to attend the university, studying political
waned. He now spent most of
his time at the
mundane business of earning
a living and in writing
articles for four
underground newspapers, two
Vietnamese and two
French. In 1937-1938, with Truong Chinh, he completed a two-volume
The Peasant Problem. Wilfred Burchett, the Red propagan-
work with his usual excess of admiration for
Communist: "Giap, together with Truong Chinh published a
Giap and Truong
masterly analysis of the Vietnamese peasant
Chinh' s profound study of Vietnamese society, The Peasant Problem,
served as the basis for the Communist Party, and later Vietminh policies
dist in Asia, describes the
toward the peasantry." 7
support himself during this stage of his
taught history in the Lycee Thang-Long, a private high school in Hanoi.
Dang Thai Mai, whose
daughter was to become Giap's second wife. He gained a reputation at
the school as a lecturer on history, and a student of his, who in 1954
fled to South Vietnam from Hanoi, told with awe how Giap "...
lived at the
of one of the professors,
could step to a blackboard and draw in the most minute detail every
battle plan of
Napoleon." His high school pupils called him "the gen-
eral," a peculiarly accurate prophecy from a group of derisive children.
In either 1937 or 1938 he married
Both Minh Thai and her
name Thi Quan
he had met during his prison term in the early
in the Soviet
Central Committee of the
Khai, were ardent Communists.
Union and was a member of
Party of Vietnam. In his writings
Author Phillip B. Davidson Isbn 9780891413066 File size 139MB Year 1988 Pages 12 Language English File format PDF Category History Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Weaving together the histories of three distinct conflicts, Phillip B. Davidson follows the entire course of the Vietnam War, from the initial French skirmishes in 1946 to the dramatic fall of Saigon nearly thirty years later. His connecting thread is North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, a remarkable figure who, with no formal military training, fashioned a rag-tag militia into one of the world’s largest and most formidable armies. By focusing on Giap’s role throughout the war, and by making available for the first time a wealth of recently declassified North Vietnamese documents, Davidson offers unprecedented insight into Hanoi’s military strategies, an insight surpassed only by his inside knowledge of American operations and planning. Eminently qualified to write this history, Davidson–who served as chief intelligence officer under Generals Westmoreland and Abrams–tells firsthand the story of our tragic ordeal in Indochina and brings his unique understanding to bear on topics of continuing controversy, offering a chilling account, for example, of when and where the U.S. considered using nuclear weapons. The most comprehensive and authoritative history of the conflict to date, Vietnam at War sparkles with a rare immediacy, and brings to life in compelling fashion the war that tore America apart. We witness the chaos in Saigon when fireworks celebrating the Tet holiday are suddenly transformed into deadly rocket and machine-gun fire. We sit in on high-level meetings where General Westmoreland plans operations, or simply engages in some tough “headknocking” with subordinates. And in the end we learn that even the seemingly limitless resources of the U.S. military could not match the revolutionary “grand strategy” of the North Vietnamese. With its easy movement from intimate memoir to trenchant military analysis, from the conference rooms of generals to the battle-scarred streets of Hue, this is military history at its most gripping. A monumental, engrossing, and unforgettable chronicle, Vietnam at War is indispensable for anyone hoping to understand a conflict that still rages in the American psyche. Download (139MB) 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War The Cambodian Campaign during the Vietnam War Tradition, Revolution, And Market Economy In A North Vietnamese Village, 1925-2006 Inside An Loc : The Battle to Save Saigon, April-May 1972 The Vietnam War: From Da Nang To Saigon (the United States At War) Load more posts