Vietnam War 1955 - 1975
The Vietnam War, (1955 to 1975), was a prolonged conflict between the communist forces of North Vietnam, backed by the Soviet Union and China, and the non-communist forces of South Vietnam, supported by the United States and its allies. The war emerged from the struggle for Vietnamese independence and escalated due to Cold War tensions. It officially began with the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August 1964, when the U.S. claimed North Vietnamese boats attacked its naval vessels, leading to increased American involvement.
Key events in the Vietnam War included the Tet Offensive in 1968, during which North Vietnamese forces launched a series of surprise attacks on South Vietnamese cities, catching U.S. and South Vietnamese forces off-guard. The offensive demonstrated that the war was far from over and led to growing anti-war sentiment in the United States. The Paris Peace Accords in 1973 marked an attempt to find a peaceful resolution, resulting in a ceasefire, the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and the release of American prisoners of war.
Prominent figures involved in the war included Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam; Ngo Dinh Diem, South Vietnam's first president; Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon, U.S. presidents who oversaw significant stages of American involvement; and General William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. The war ended with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, as North Vietnamese forces captured the city, leading to the reunification of North and South Vietnam under communist rule. The Vietnam War left a deep impact on both nations, as well as on international politics and the American public's perception of military interventions.
Summary timeline of major battles and events during the Vietnam War:
Battle of Ia Drang Valley (November 14 - 18, 1965)
The first major engagement between US Army forces and North Vietnamese regulars, resulting in heavy casualties on both sides.
Battle of Long Tan (August 18, 1966)
Australian and New Zealand troops engaged a much larger force of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters, managing to repel the attack with heavy casualties on the enemy side.
Tet Offensive (January 30 - September 23, 1968)
A coordinated series of surprise attacks by North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces on multiple cities and military installations throughout South Vietnam.
Battle of Hamburger Hill (May 10 - 20, 1969)
US forces engaged in a prolonged and bloody battle to capture Hill 937 in the A Shau Valley, resulting in controversy due to its high casualties.
Cambodian Incursion (April 29 - July 22, 1970)
US and South Vietnamese forces launched an invasion of Cambodia to disrupt North Vietnamese supply routes and bases.
Easter Offensive (March 30 - October 22, 1972)
North Vietnamese forces launched a large-scale offensive against South Vietnam, targeting key cities and causing significant destruction.
Battle of An Lộc (April 13 - July 20, 1973)
South Vietnamese forces, supported by US air power, successfully defended the town of An Lộc against a North Vietnamese siege.
Fall of Saigon (April 30, 1975)
North Vietnamese forces captured the capital city of Saigon, leading to the end of the war and the reunification of Vietnam.
"A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam" by Neil Sheehan
"The Best and the Brightest" by David Halberstam
"Dispatches" by Michael Herr
"Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam" by H.R. McMaster
"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien
"Vietnam: A History" by Stanley Karnow
"Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam" by Fredrik Logevall
"Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam" by Mark Bowden
"Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam" by Nick Turse
"Street Without Joy: The French Debacle in Indochina" by Bernard B. Fall