Vietnam War
A Topical Exploration and Primary Source Collection
by James H. Willbanks, Editor
November 2017, 823pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5084-4
$218, £162, 188€, A295
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5085-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The United States was involved in Vietnam from 1945 to 1975. During the course of the Vietnam War, more than 58,000 Americans and more than a million Vietnamese died.

This detailed two-volume set considers the Vietnam War, one of America's longest and bloodiest wars, from a topical perspective, addressing the main characters and key events of the war and supplying many relevant primary source documents.

The Vietnam War not only claimed the lives of nearly 60,000 Americans and more than a million Vietnamese, but the prolonged conflict also resulted in a firestorm of protest at home that shook the foundations of the country and made U.S. citizens question the moral principles and motivations behind our foreign policy and military actions.

Written in a very accessible style by recognized authorities on the war, Vietnam War: A Topical Exploration and Primary Source Collection provides students and general readers with a complete overview of the conflict in Vietnam—a broad topic that remains an important part of the American history and world history curriculum. Using a topical approach to cover all aspects of the war, the set enables students to see the complete picture of the conflict through its presentation of reference entries and documents arranged in cohesive, compelling chapters.

Examples of the primary documents in the set include “Communist Party: Evaluation of the Tet Offensive” (1968) and President Richard Nixon’s Speech on Vietnamization (1969). These primary sources are augmented by oral histories of soldiers who fought in the Tet Offensive. Additionally, maps and images in each section enhance the aesthetic appeal of the book and heighten students’ understanding of the material. Readers will come away with both a strong comprehension of the Vietnam War as well as an appreciation for how significant this proxy conflict was as a lead-up event to the global Cold War.


  • Comprehensively explains how the Vietnam War became one of the United States' longest and bloodiest wars and why it served as a society- and culture-changing event, even for the millions of Americans who were not directly involved in the conflict
  • Examines 14 key topics within and surrounding the Vietnam War, ranging from the First Indochina War to the aftermath of the war for both Vietnam and the United States
  • Includes key primary source documents, illustrations and maps, an extensive bibliography, and a detailed chronology
James H. Willbanks, PhD, is the General of the Army George C. Marshall Chair of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC), Fort Leavenworth, KS. Willbanks is a retired Army officer and Vietnam veteran who has been on the CGSC faculty since retiring from the service. Prior to assuming the Marshall Chair, he served as Director of the CGSC Department of Military History for 11 years. He holds a BA in history from Texas A&M University and a master's and doctorate in history from the University of Kansas. He is the author or editor of 14 books, including A Raid Too Far, Abandoning Vietnam, The Battle of An Loc, The Tet Offensive: A Concise History, and Vietnam War Almanac. Willbanks is the editor of America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan and Generals of the Army. Willbanks is a former two-term trustee of the Society for Military History, is on the editorial board of the Modern War Studies series for University Press of Kansas and the History Advisory Committee of ABC-CLIO, and serves on the editorial boards of Vietnam and Armchair General magazines. He and his work have been highlighted in media such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, US News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal, Army Times, Stars and Stripes, and PBS. Willbanks is currently serving as a consultant to Ken Burns in the production of an eight-part documentary on the Vietnam War for PBS.


"This outstanding set is a must-purchase for public, high school, and college libraries, especially those where Ken Burns’ recent documentary on the topic was popular."—Booklist, February 13, 2018

"The organization of this unique, distinct look into one of the most controversial wars in U.S. history is chronological by major periods, from the first French war in the region to the aftermath of North Vietnam's triumph. . . . Overall, the result is well-balanced and informative. Summing Up: Recommended. All public and academic levels/libraries."—Choice, May 1, 2018

Recommended for Community College, 2018—Choice, 00/00/00

"Rather than alphabetically arranged through the entire volume, the clustering of them by period and event and linked with relevant documents makes the reference more useful for individuals who wish to focus on a particular period or topic. The documents are pertinent. Other features include a listing of the reference entries and documents, a preface and introduction, chronology, a lengthy selected bibliography, and an index. Typical of ABC-CLIO, the publication is colorful and attractive."—ARBA, January 24, 2018

"These helpful and detailed volumes make many areas of the war accessible to browsers and researchers alike. . . . Readable from cover to cover for history buffs and those interested in a detailed discussion of the war, it is also useful for research or information on any particular Vietnam War topic. . . . This resource will be useful to history classes, for assignments on biographies of any of the individuals profiled, and for those interested in general exploration of topics pertaining to the war. . . . Recommended."—School Library Connection, May 1, 2018
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