The Vietnam War Era
A Personal Journey
by Bruce O. Solheim
September 2006, 272pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98308-6
$65, £50, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-0-313-01518-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Interweaves historical narrative with biographical profiles and personal memoir to tell the story of the failure of the Vietnam War from the perspective of those who were involved, on all sides of the conflict.

There are many lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War, foremost among them being that war as an instrument of peace is not viable. Solheim provides a full picture of the war era at home and in Southeast Asia by combining historical narrative with biographical profiles and personal reflections. He allows the story to unfold in multiple layers, as seen through the eyes of those who were involved on all sides of the conflict: the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese, the American generals and politicians, and the American war correspondents and antiwar protestors.

With this book, Solheim explores, and hopes to answer, vital questions about the American war in Vietnam. What is the meaning and significance of the Vietnam War for Americans today? What lessons have Americans learned from our defeat and how should we apply that knowledge in implementing current foreign policy? Who or what is to be blamed for the loss in Vietnam? How can we heal our nation from the Vietnam War syndrome? How do we fit the Vietnam War era into our greater historical narrative?


"Solheim presents a narrative history of the US war in Vietnam that generally focuses on the political and military decisions of top leaders from Eisenhower and Kennedy's early involvement through the Johnson and Nixon years. Interspersed throughout are short profiles of important individuals from the era, including General Creighton Abrams, Jane Fonda, Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, Abbie Hoffman, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, reporter Seymour Hersh, and Bob Dylan. At the end of the book, he offers his own autobiographical account of growing up in the Vietnam War era."—Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2007

"Bruce O. Solheim has taught the history of the Vietnam War for a dozen years. In his latest book, The Vietnam War Era: A Personal Journey, Solheim, an Army veteran and a history professor at Citrus College in California, has come up with a unique and insightful look at that period. The first three-fourths of the book is an excellent summary of the history of the Vietnam War with enlightening sidebars on many people who were involved in itfrom Gen. Earle Wheeler to Oliver Stone. Solheim completes the book with a riveting account of his personal story, including details of his older brothers Vietnam War experiences and his two Army tours of duty after the Vietnam War."—Vietnam Veterans of America, February 1, 2007

"A scholarly treatise on a haunting subject that requires ongoing and thorough examination. America's military actions in Southeast Asia and the resulting turmoil at home created a large and complex set of events that defy simple or easy explanations. Solheim's book will help students of the American war in Vietnam define and understand the issues involved in this tragic Cold War conflict. The volume is timely, gripping and infused with intelligent insight."—Walter Jones, Assistant Head of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah-Salt Lake City

"Bruce Solheim's 'people's history' reminds us of the human dimensions of warfare. It underscores what Americans too often ignore--the Vietnamese as well as the American side of America's longest war. Solheim provides biographical sketches of a wide range of men and women, whose ideas, experiences, and roles illuminate the war. This is an important contribution."—Gary R. Hess, Distinguished Research Professor^LBowling Green State University Former President of SHAFR (Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations)

"Bruce Solheim's book is ideal for the classroom, with its historical narrative interspersed with profiles of the major players in the U.S. and Vietnam during and surrounding the war. But what gives it special relevance is his personal account of the era, told through child's-eye memoir, letters from his brother in Vietnam, and later musings on how his early experiences shaped the man he has become. It is this that sets it well above histories that deal in dates, battles and statistics, and brings home the persistent influence of this war on the Americans who were touched by it."—Susan O'Neill, author of Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Viet Nam

"As a participant in the Vietnam War, I was fascinated to read Bruce Solheim's take on what was going on behind the scenes. His personal experiences combined with dead-on historical research add depth and authenticity to this account. The Vietnam War Era is an excellent read for those curious to know how our politicians led us down such an ill-advised and ill-fated path."—Robert Mason, author, Chickenhawk
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