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VIETNAM – A war lost and won

‘VIETNAM – A War Lost and Won’ by Nigel Cawthorne was first published in 2003 by Arcturus Publishing Limited in the UK. Nigel Cawthorne, born in Chicago, United States, is an American-born British fiction and non-fiction writer and editor.

The book includes an introduction to what sparked one of the worst wars in American history. It consists of ten chapters followed by an epilogue, bibliography and index. Offered in high-quality recycled paperback, for those who missed out on the Vietnam War era, this book is highly recommended as it provides vivid, lucid statistics on what really went wrong in the war that had left a permanent black mark on American power. and military superiority.

The cover of this highly informative book has a watermarked image of a soldier in full military gear in the background and US troops crossing what looks like a typical Vietnamese rice field with the help of helicopters. Surely these images are reminiscent of what frequently appears in the Hollywood movies Rambo, Platoon and Missing in Action.

It also provides the maps of Vietnam showing the disputed areas: the north and the south, the two territories that were constantly in the spotlight during the war. Another map will help readers about the Tet Offensive that took place from January to February 1968. Not only that, the book has high-quality real-life photos, photos taken in actual battles, showing the various assets of the forces Americans, the individuals who dictated the war from behind and other chronological evidence in what would be the only war that the Americans lost.

Written in simple but precise language, the book offers an abundance of numerical evidence and readers will enjoy overwhelming jumps and rebounds. The statistical records revealed in this book will inform us that 46,370 US military personnel were killed, with more than 10,000 dying of non-combat related causes and more than 100,000 wounded. The US government had spent a whopping $145 billion, a huge amount at the time, on a worthless war that began in 1965 and ended in 1975, two years after the Paris Peace Agreement.

The US lost 4,865 helicopters, each costing about a quarter of a million dollars, and eight million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia combined, far more than the number dropped during the entire Second World War. ( SECOND WORLD WAR). The B52, a pride of American hegemony, dropped $200,000 worth of bombs from its bomb bay doors on every mission. Readers will also be able to identify the other assets of the US Army, from the US UH 13 helicopters known as Hueys, the US Patrol Attack Boat (STAB), the M60 machine guns , the B52 bomber, and the US Phantom planes mentioned constantly throughout the book.

Another point in favor of this book is that the author had distanced himself from all the obvious elements for parochialism; regionalism and blind nationalism, therefore he neglected the aspect of one-sidedness in his views. According to the writer, more than 18 million people were displaced during the war and more than 3 percent of South Vietnam was totally devastated and beyond recognition.

Other revelations indicate that 18 million gallons of defoliants were used in the war, resulting in severely disabled and malformed babies. As many as 50,000 were still being held as political prisoners, Prisoners of War (POWs) until 1986 and the writer went on to clarify that the after effect of the war caused 865,000 people to flee the country in search of greener pastures elsewhere.

The writer also criticized American soldiers during the war, mocking their ignorance of boasting about undermining the enemy’s strength. This was enhanced by the use of terms that were prevalent among the US military in Vietnam at the time, such as ‘gooks’, a derogatory term referring to people of Asian descent in the US, and ‘farmers’, which it refers to the Vietnamese insurgents who mostly consist of farmers. The loss of this peasant army further lit the fire of terrible humiliation in the United States.

The writer also further affirmed the fact that, in general, the people of Vietnam have a special affinity with the soil of their country and the guerrilla war waged by the so-called peasant army, was fought to the last drop of blood unlike his counterpart which, on a large scale, consists of reluctant recruits, some in their teens, who fight as soldiers on the front lines of bloody battle.

On war strategies, the writer pointed out that from day one, the superior army had been wrong about everything. The Vietnamese had won the war through the more effective use of underground tunnels, used for centuries, even before the US Army invasion, against the Chinese and the French. The Vietnamese had tunnels for hundreds of miles from the Cambodian border to the gates of Saigon. They had dormitories, workshops, hospitals, kitchens, central facilities, and supply depots built inside these tunnels. Made from laterite clay, the surface hardens like concrete once exposed to the scorching sun. With this information, the writer had revealed to readers that it was indeed true that one of the main reasons the Americans had lost the war was because they were fighting an invisible enemy; Frequently appearing out of nowhere, he engaged the enemy in sudden combat, only to then disappear into thin air.

The book also introduces some interesting terms for readers like ‘punji traps’ and ‘toe poppers’, the two most common booby traps used in Vietnam during the war. These are traps made from simple tropical resources: bamboos and punji sticks, but the brutality they inflict on victims is mind-boggling. The book further confirmed that some 10,000 US servicemen lost at least one limb in Vietnam, more than in World War II and Korea combined.

The writer juggled his factual statements back and forth (Vietnam and the US) to keep readers abreast of events taking place at home, including the massive civil protests in the streets of New York, Washington DC and other major US cities, protesting the legitimacy of the war. One section also includes Martin Luther King (MLK), the civil rights activist, who spoke out against the war, exercising his enormous moral conviction and authority. The writer also made no secret of his disgust at exposing the Vietnam War as a racially biased and divisive war. African-Americans did not find it easy, as middle-class white youth, to evade the draft. An indisputable fact revealed in the book was how African Americans, who made up about 23 percent of the total US Army population killed in action in Vietnam, bore an unfair burden and how this feeling of being unfairly treated and sacrificed in a foreign war helped fuel further racial conflict in the United States. The Marines did not admit African Americans until World War II. Vietnam was fundamentally the first war in which blacks and whites fought side by side.

The current generation Y of the IT age will also be able to recognize the ‘Hippies’ through this reading. The ‘Hippies’ movement, which began in the 1960s around the same time the war broke out, borrowed the ‘peace’ philosophy of MLK and the anti-war movement, was famous for its comment: ‘Make love, not war’.

The climax of the book lies in the revelation, without an iota of secrecy, about how and why the most powerful superpower in the world had lost the war in Vietnam. The focus is Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), where prostitutes roamed and ‘served’, military brothels, and extreme marijuana and opium addiction were rampant among the US military. Drug abuse has a central theme in the music and culture of the 1960s that was directly associated with the Vietnam War. Other deadly problems related to loss of morale and deteriorating health among the US military have been revealed in the form of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including gonorrhea or ‘clap’ and the Heinz variety 57. Some of these diseases were transmitted to the US military by deliberate means disguised as Vietcong tactics.

The book also plunges readers into the poignancy of the ‘Massacre at MyLai’, considered to be one of the most heinous acts of killing people, including children, in the history of warfare. The man responsible for this act of appeal was Lieutenant William L. Calley. The war had left an indelible stigma by eroding human dignity, and the world realized that the rest of the world was not operating in the same moral vacuum as Vietnam. The writer also revealed in his closing that public hostility towards the US servicemen who returned home after the debacle further escalated the serious psychological and social quagmire and it was reported in 1980 that more than 700,000 war veterans experienced some form of emotional disturbance. or psychological called post-traumatic. Stress Disorder (PSTD) after his return home.

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