cover image Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975

Our Vietnam: The War 1954-1975

A. J. Langguth, Author Simon & Schuster $35 (768p) ISBN 978-0-684-81202-1

The New York Times Vietnam correspondent and sometime Saigon bureau chief during the war, Langguth has since written eight books (including Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution) and now teaches journalism at USC's Annenberg School of Communications. Short on analysis yet with the comprehensiveness of a long-term, slow-cooked project, his new book sets out the politically charged policy-making story of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War completely and seamlessly. Four sections pair leaders from each sideDKennedy and Ho Chi Minh (long); Vo Nguyen Giap and Lyndon Johnson (longer); Nixon and Le Duc Tho; Le Duan and FordDcreating a personality-driven saga via dozens of individual stories. Langguth has interviewed many of the major players and mined the best primary and secondary accounts, but his interviews with lesser known but consequential American and Vietnamese eyewitnesses prove the most revelatory: William Kohlmann of the CIA; Viet Cong Lt. Ta Minh Kham; Foreign Service Officer Paul Kattenburg; former State Department director of intelligence Thomas Hughes; Nguyen Dinh Tu, a one-time South Vietnamese newspaper reporter; and many others. The result is a well-crafted and adroitly balanced account that tells a long, compelling story and sets itself apart from the Vietnam War pack. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Nov.)