The Vietnam War: An Intimate History.

Author:Cirafici, John
Position:Book review

The Vietnam War: An Intimate History. By Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017. Index. Contents. Photographs. Maps. Bibliography. Pp xiii, 612. $60.00 ISBN 978-030770025-4

This impressive book is a must-have companion to Ken Burns' and Lynn Novick's highly praised PBS series, The Vietnam War. It parallels the presentation and adds much more in its text. Everyone who applauded the series will equally appreciate the extensive collection of photographs, many not used in the series, that are matched by an informative narrative. A balanced approach, drawing on the experiences of participants from all sides of the war and from the antiwar movement, it does justice to anyone who was in some way connected to the war and the issues of that era. In short, this book's breadth addresses much of a war that remains one of the most consequential and controversial events in American history.

Those who are combat veterans of the war will probably be the most critical of readers. As one veteran of the most intense year of the war, I can assure them that they will not be disappointed by this reflective history of the conflict. Consequently, the book's use of vignettes--again, from all sides of the war--resonated with this veteran's memory of the same events, especially of the Tet Offensive,and the siege at Khe Sanh. An unexpected bonus for me was the discovery of people with whom I had served in the war.

Of particular interest is a section containing a "what-if discussion, comparing what President John F. Kennedy's courses of action in Vietnam might have been and the decisions he could...

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