Trial by Fire: The 1972 Easter Offensive, America's Last Vietnam Battle

Dale Andrade, Author
Dale Andrade, Author Hippocrene Books $24.95 (600p) ISBN 978-0-7818-0286-4
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By the time the North Vietnamese launched their Easter Offensive, most of America's combat troops had returned home; those remaining were primarily advisers assigned to South Vietnamese units. Andrade, an editor of Vietnam magazine, explains why their efforts were crucial to the outcome of the 1972 battles in Quang Tri Province, the Central Highlands and during the siege of An Loc. Most noteworthy is his detailed assessment of John Paul Vann's advisory leadership during the battle for Kontum and his diplomatic dealings with uncooperative troops from the Republic of (South) Korea. (Vann is the protagonist in Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie.) The motivations behind the massive offensive, according to the author's reckoning, were many: the Communists hoped to influence the 1972 U.S. presidential election, upset the tempo of Nixon's Vietnamization program, reverse the advances of Saigon's pacification efforts and hasten the total pullout of American troops. The defeat of the North Vietnamese in the Easter Offensive was only a temporary setback but marked the end of General Vo Nguyen Giap's distinguished career. Andrade argues that Giap's biggest mistake was to attack on three fronts instead of concentrating on a single devastating thrust. Essential reading for the serious student of war, the book is a major case study of command and control on the battlefield. (Jan.)
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