Nixon's Vietnam War

Jeffrey Kimball

Winner: Robert H. Ferrell Award

Winner: Ohio Academy of History Book Award

“An enormously impressive work that lays bare the real Nixon and, along the way, reduces Nixon’s version of the war to a legend of his own making. Will be the standard for understanding Richard Nixon and Vietnam-both central to our contemporary history.”

—Stanley Kutler, author of Abuse of Power and The Wars of Watergate

“A major accomplishment. Far and away the best study of Nixon's Vietnam policies we are likely to have for some time.”

—George Herring, author of America’s Longest War and LBJ and Vietnam

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The signing of the Paris Agreement in 1973 ended not only America's Vietnam War but also Richard Nixon's best laid plans. After years of secret negotiations, threats of massive bombing, and secret diplomacy designed to shatter strained Communist alliances, the president had to settle for a peace that fell far short of his original aims.

This is the first book to focus exclusively on Nixon's direction of the Vietnam War. Based on extensive interviews with principal players and original research in Vietnam, it goes behind the scenes in Washington and into the minds of America's leaders to provide the most complete and balanced analysis of Nixon's and Kissinger's complex and tortuous strategy and diplomacy.

Jeffrey Kimball has conducted exhaustive research into recently declassified files and has reexamined Nixon's and Kissinger's postwar writings to depict a hidden reality quite different from that previously presented. The author's absorbing tale traces Nixon's involvement with Vietnam back to 1953 with his advocacy of interventionist policies and demonstrates how the foreign policy lessons he learned before his election served as the basis for the goals he pursued in office. He describes Nixon's struggle to appease his hawkish supporters while making good on his campaign promise to end the war and how in the face of other foreign and domestic problems, Vietnam became the major preoccupation of his presidency.

Kimball explores Nixon's peculiar psychology and his curious relationship with Henry Kissinger to reveal how they influenced his pursuit of globalist goals in Vietnam. He reveals how the Nixon-Kissinger relationship worked-and how it almost fell apart. He also describes the keystone in Nixon's strategy-the "Madman Theory"—which he employed to make the Communist nations think he could be provoked into fits of irrationality that might lead him to use nuclear weapons.

Compellingly written and painstakingly researched, Nixon's Vietnam War combines grand synthesis with new information and revealing insights, including the perspectives of the Vietnamese and their Chinese and Soviet allies. As more is disclosed about the war, it will serve as an indispensable resource for understanding both that tragic conflict and the troubled mind of the leader who ultimately prolonged it.

About the Author

Jeffrey Kimball is professor of history at Miami University, Ohio, and editor of the volume To Reason Why: The Debate about the Causes of American Involvement in the Vietnam War.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series