Vietnam Book Review: The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, Second Edition | HistoryNet MENU

Vietnam Book Review: The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, Second Edition

By R. V. Lee
11/13/2017 • Vietnam Magazine

The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, Second Edition

edited by Spencer C. Tucker, ABC-CLIO, 2011

Publication of the three-volume Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War in 1999 produced one of the most comprehensive studies of the war, the indispensable reference for historians and students of the war alike. Now, editor Spencer C. Tucker and a veritable who’s who of Vietnam War and military history scholars have created an updated, four-volume second edition. Since 1999, rather than recede into history, the Vietnam War has loomed large, to this day, as a benchmark against which U.S. conflicts are to be measured. Seemingly, any position in the spectrum of opinion about our current wars draws on the Vietnam experience for its conclusions. But in fact, the debate about the reasons for U.S. involvement inVietnam and possible lessons to be learned rages on. As Tucker writes, The Encyclopedia seeks to address the enduring questions that have defied clear answers for four decades.

In addition to dozens of new entries— requiring a fourth volume—and the updating of all of the first edition entries, the new edition has added a significant amount of new information derived from Communist documents heretofore never published in English. And, enhancing all 225 documents—from Ho Chi Minh’s 1920 speech at the French Socialist Party Tours conference, to President Bill Clinton’s 1995 announcement on normalizing relations with Vietnam—are concisely crafted introductions that contextualize each primary source.

Clearly, The Encyclopedia second edition could not arrive at a more critical time, as we grapple with increasingly unpopular wars—the questions of how and why we got into them, and how we get out—and look to the Vietnam War for answers.

 

Originally published in the October 2011 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here.  

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