An epic tragedy 1945-1975
By Max Hastings
Published by William Collins; Dist. By Harper Collins
RRP $34.99 in paperback • ISBN 9780008132996
Variously described by English reviewers as his ‘masterpiece’ and a ‘masterful performance’, this latest book from distinguished British author Max Hastings is a monumental undertaking for a single volume (722 pages).
It is a work the author himself describes as being for the general reader.
He begins by setting the record straight about war in general and the Vietnam war in particular, which he describes as ‘… an Asian tragedy, upon which a US nightmare was overlaid …’.
Hastings spent three years interviewing scores of participants on both sides, as well as researching a multitude of American and Vietnamese documents and memoirs.
Where other writers have treated the war as a US tragedy, Hastings sees it as a tragedy for the Vietnamese people, of whom forty died for every American.
Among his conclusions, Hastings states that ‘… the American commitment was fatally flawed by its foundation not upon the interests of the Vietnamese people, but instead on the perceived requirements of US domestic and foreign policy…’.
Perhaps a mistake oft repeated? Hastings has delivered a stunning and highly readable political and military narrative with his customary clarity and brilliance.