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I recently finished reading Max Hastings’ monumental history of the Vietnam War. I say reading” but I actually switched from a borrowed hardback copy of the book, to a kindle version and then ultimately to the audio book. I decided to read about Vietnam following-on from recent books I had read about the race to the moon and the Apollo programme. I had decided these were the two hugely expensive endeavours that shaped American life in the 1960s. It was fortunate a colleague offered to lend me a copy of this particular book with his recommendation.

The book was deeply fascinating and I would thoroughly recommend it. As an audiobook it worked extremely well and the narrator (Peter Noble) did a great job with a lot of material, tricky pronunciations and just the right hint of the required accents.

I enjoyed learning more about the history of Vietnam from 1945 onwards but ultimately I found the inevitably of events really depressing. Once the anti-communist war started it was inevitable that America would be drawn into a more active role in the conflict. The rules of engagement made it an almost impossible conflict to win. As a child I was stuck by the images of people fleeing Saigon, clambering up to helicopters and through this book I learned of the political opportunism that lead to those events.

As I write this, US troops are arbitrarily withdrawing from positions in northern Syria against military advice, exposing an ally to the threat of imminent attack. Perhaps if one doesn’t learn about history we are doomed to repeat it.

Posted on October 9, 2019   #History  

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