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Herring, George C. America’s Longest War Essay

Herring writes a broad and sweeping history of the Vietnam War,
fitting it within its historical context. He recounts how two sisters,
riding elephants, led a rebellion against China’s dominance in thefirst
century A.D. just as they resisted French imperialism in the 20th century.
He demonstrates how the roots of the American/Vietnam War were seeded
in 1945 when Vietnamfirst declared its independence from France, and how
the United States helped France re-establish itself there while claiming
friendship with Vietnam. By the late 40’s, the United States was worried
about the spread of Communism in Europe. During that time, Herring reports
that Vietnam made overtures to the United States that were badly managed
and affected by cultural and racial prejudice, setting up a pattern that
would result in American concerns about the spread of communism in
Southeast Asia as well as Eastern Europe. Communist China saw the advantage
and began giving the aid to Vietnam that the U. S. had declined to give,
and the U. S. shifted its support more to France, and the outbreak of the
Korean Conflict served to confirm U. S. fears about communism. By the time
Eisenhower took office, government leaders fully embraced the “domino
theory,” that if Vietnam became Communist, the rest of the region’s
countries would fall to communism, one by one. Given actions of Vietnam
leaders, such as invading Laos, this view made some sense.
Herring wrote a book that told a complex story as compactly as
possible while including the political, military and diplomatic influences
that led to the events as they took place. He also includes enough
information about the Vietnamese view to make their actions and reactions
Herring’s theme seems to be that we can only look at events as they
unfold from the perspective we have at the time. Coming to Vietnam after
triumphantly spearheading a monumental mili…

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