The Vietnam War. A Chronology of War. By Raymond K. Bluhm. New York: Universe Publishing, 2010. Illustrations. Photographs. Index. Pp. 288. $50.00 ISBN: 978-0-7893-1897-8
Coffee table books go in and out of vogue; some often validate the lack of importance of the genre while others defy that perception. This book is an example of the latter. Continuing the series of books sponsored by the services' historical foundations, The Vietnam War provides the reader with a sense of the magnitude of that war, if not the complexity. In order to accomplish this, according to the editor, the contributors used "a sequential approach to describe the key events that led up to, comprised, and finally ended the Vietnam War."
The book is divided into three large segments, each comprising a significant time period of the war. Each segment is broken down by year, then further by month, and then by day. If an entry pertains to one of the services, that is noted. Cold War--Hot War covers the years 1950 to 1964. A War Transformed covers the years 1965 to 1968, when American involvement began in earnest and massive numbers of personnel and hardware entered the war. A Fight to the End concludes the war years from 1969 to 1977, including the American withdrawal, the Geneva Accords, and the eventual fall of South Vietnam to communist forces.
The book's strengths might not be readily apparent, but they are there. For example, the discussion of the end of French involvement in Vietnam aptly demonstrates the growing American involvement. Also, the editors do not restrict themselves to Southeast Asia alone. Rather, in an attempt to place the war and its origins in a proper and easily understood context, they point out other events taking place both in east Asia and in the United States that were relevant to the war's origins, progress, and eventual conclusion...