Nixon's Vietnam War
Sales Date: November 20, 1998
512 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: November 1998
Winner: Robert H. Ferrell Award
Winner: Ohio Academy of History Book Award
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.
"This detailed probing inquiry makes excellent use of interviews and newly declassified materials from the National Security Council."—Library Journal
"Kimball puts Nixon’s and Kissinger’s Vietnam War maneuverings under a microscope and discovers a malignant cancer on the presidency."—Kirkus Reviews
"Compellingly written with painstaking archival research and an informed interpretation of that research. Anyone interested in the Vietnam War will profit from reading this insightful, finely documented, and scholarly account."—Proceedings
"This book advances our knowledge of one of the key periods in the history of the American experience in Southeast Asia."—American Historical Review
"Kimball’s graphic narrative is an impressive accomplishment that is both readable and informative. It is a richly told tale, almost mythic in its depiction of a tragic period of the Pax Americana and a leader who aspired to use great power to achieve his goal of a peaceful world, but whose hubris had the unintended consequences of death, destruction, and division in Vietnam and America."—The Historian
"Mandatory reading for all those interested in getting a closer look at Nixon’s policies regarding the war in Vietnam."—Military History Online
"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
"Kimball explains, as no historian has before, how Nixon and Kissinger conducted their complicated and devious Vietnam War diplomacy. Making brilliant use of new documentary sources and interviews from the American as well as the North Vietnamese side, he has made a singular contribution to our understanding of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and, even more important, to our understanding of that most fascinating of presidents, Richard M. Nixon."—Melvin Small, author of Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves
"An important contribution to our understanding of a tragic period in American politics and diplomacy."—Herbert S. Parmet, author of Richard Nixon and His America
"The most balanced and comprehensive study of the subject that we are likely to have for some time."—David Anderson, editor of Shadow on the White House: Presidents and the Vietnam War, 1945–1975
"A deeply necessary in-depth look at Nixon. Let us not soon forget."—Oliver Stone
Abbreviations and Special Names in Text
1. Dragons of Myth and Mind
2. The Worldview of an Improbable Peacemaker: 1953-1967
3. Winning on the Home Front: 1968
4. Nixon, Kissinger, and the Madman Theory
5. Avoiding Defeat, Seeking Victory: 1968-1969
6. Talking While Fighting: 1969
7. Target of Opportunity: 1969
8. Nixon's War: 1969
9. Biting the Bullet: 1970
10. Transitions, Continuities: 1970-1971
11. Setting the Stage: 1971
12. Fighting, Then Talking: 1972
13. Bangs and Whimpers: 1972-1973