Book Review – The Vietnam War-A Chronology of War, ed. by Col. Raymond Bluhm Jr.

A retired Army colonel, Vietnam combat veteran and adviser to the Army Historical Foundation, Raymond Bluhm has written and edited a series of books that includes U.S. Army: A Complete History; The Army; U.S. Army Infantry and World War II: A Chronology of War. His latest effort focuses on the day-by-day history of the U.S. armed forces in the Vietnam War. As Bluhm writes in his editor’s note, “The Vietnam War was a war within a war—a regional conflict that was an expression of the larger global Cold War that brought nuclear-armed opponents nose-to-nose several times.” As such, the volume’s first 70 pages concisely covers the period from 1950 to 1964, providing readers with a well-rounded, well-illustrated overview of the transformation of Vietnam from an American “conflict” to an American “war.”

While the chronology is encyclopedic in its format, its individual event entries are generally organized under the various branches that are involved in the particular action. Each section is introduced with expanded commentary that provides more detail of key battles, operations, evolving military strategy and important events in the political world that influenced the action on the ground.

Adding to the unique quality of the elegantly bound oversized volume (complete with a replica of the U.S. Vietnam Service Medal affixed to its cover) is the generous use of maps, charts and colorful combat art to go along with the hundreds of color and black and white images. While the selection of images, from a wide variety of sources, includes many of the most iconic photos from the period, readers are also treated to many seldom-scene pictures of actions, weaponry and aircraft.

In his foreword to the volume, Virginia Senator James Webb, who was a Marine infantryman in Vietnam, writes that the book “Allows those who wish to understand the war a clear window into how it was fought. And it provided those who fought the war a measure of understanding, respect, and recognition that they earned so many years ago on those faraway battlefields.”

The Vietnam War: A Chronology of War, is sure to be a work on the war to be passed on from one generation to the next.

Universe Publishing, 2010

This review was published in the April 2010 issue of Vietnam magazine

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