From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Vietnam: A History of the War

By Allen Meece (reviewer)

Vietnam: A History of the War
by Russell Freedman

(Holiday House, 2016)

This history book starts with a Benjamin Franklin epigraph that is a broad truth: "There never was a good war or a bad peace." The Vietnam War ranks at the top of the list of bad wars and on the third page is a statement that John Kerry made in 1971 to the US Senate, "In our opinion and in our experience there is nothing in Vietnam that threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life by linking such a loss to the preservation of to us the height of criminal hypocrisy."

Kerry was not exaggerating when he used the word criminal. It does not matter how big the authority is that needlessly kills fifty-eight thousand Americans and two million Vietnamese, it is an establishment of criminals.

Any political solution would have worked better than that war, but American racism and chauvinism got in the way of a simple, non-violent solution: Recognize Ho Chi Minh's government when he kicked the French colonialists out of Vietnam at the battle of Dien Bien Phu way back in 1954.

This book explains Vietnam's deep commitment to independence that dates back to the Chinese occupation before the time of Christ. By the time the Vietnamese had ousted the Chinese imperialists and later the Japanese imperialists in 1945 and the French colonialists in 1954, they had had enough of being dominated. By anybody.

Russell Freedman recounts America's first mistake: Not helping Ho Chi Minh to establish a new and unified country after he had wrested its independence from colonial France. Ho thought we loved independence, since we made such a huge deal out of the Fourth of July but he found that we do not support independence when it's practiced by a socialist country. Witness the Nixon regime encouraging the 1973 coup of Salvador Allende, a freely-elected socialist President of Chile.

"Vietnam a History of The War" stands up high with Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States." Both authors' deep research is boiled down to clear, thorough, simple explanations of the dirty tricks and secret agendas that suck America deeper into the quicksand of utter violence. Violence makes impressive noise and gore and corporate profits but solves nothing.

Freedman quotes President Johnson admitting to an aide, "It's the biggest damn mess I ever saw. I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out." Excuse me and fifty-eight thousand of my dearly departed peers, Mr. Johnson but we knew the answer all the time. It was called Peace.

Allen Meece was a sonar technician on a destroyer offshore of Vietnam and has written a novel about a fictional Tonkin Gulf Incident titled "The Abel Mutiny" available at

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