Lyndon Johnson's War America's Cold War Crusade in Vietnam, 1945-1968

Hill and Wang Critical Issues

Michael H. Hunt

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

160 Pages


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Using newly available documents from both American and Vietnamese archives, Hunt reinterprets the values, choices, misconceptions, and miscalculations that shaped the long process of American intervention in Southeast Asia. This brief study thus renders more comprehensible—if no less troubling—the tangled origins of the war.

Lyndon Johnson's War is part of the celebrated Hill and Wang Critical Issues Series, which offers several concise and affordable works on pivotal topics in American history, society, and politics.


Praise for Lyndon Johnson's War

"A readable and penetrating account of America's tragic experience in Vietnam by one of the nation's leading diplomatic historians. Hunt brings to this account the insights of a specialist in both American and East Asian history—a combination few can match."—Michael J. Hogan, Ohio State University

"Elegant and achingly sad. This brilliant primer on the war in Vietnam is a powerful indictment of American arrogance and paternalism. Hunt engages in no diatribes, delivers no cheap shots, assigns no blame easily. Instead, by treating the Vietnamese side of the story with sensitivity and depth, he exposes the fundamental ethnocentrism of the American war planners and of traditional accounts of the war."—Piero Gleijeses, The Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies

"A tragic tale, told by a talent, full of sound and fury, and signifying quite a lot. In addition to providing a skillful and engaging account of the long escalation, though in mercifully short compass, Hunt draws attention to the right lessons."—Foreign Affairs

"Immensely valuable. Like the war itself, it 'offers no easy answers—and no simple moral judgments.' "—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

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Read an Excerpt

Lyndon Johnson's War
1THE COLD WAR WORLD OF THE UGLY AMERICANIn 1958 The Ugly American, a lively, anecdote-filled, and relentless indictment of U.S. failures in Southeast Asia, burst on the American scene. This piece of politically charged, reality-based fiction introduced readers to Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia already looming in importance in U.S. foreign policy. Across its pages paraded a small crowd of memorable characters, each with a lesson to teach about why communisma was winning in the region and how Americans needed to respond.Written in a breezy, accessible style, the
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  • Michael H. Hunt

  • Michael H. Hunt, the Everett H. Emerson Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a leading scholar of U.S.-East Asian relations. Among his many books are Crises in U.S. Foreign Policy: An International History Reader and The Genesis of Chinese Communist Foreign Policy.
  • Michael H. Hunt Dan Sears