Vietnam War

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite underwent a dramatic change of heart during the Vietnam War—and in doing so, changed the face of broadcast journalism

On February 6, 1965, Vietcong guerrillas attacked the U.S. base at Pleiku, killing eight American soldiers and wounding 126. The Johnson administration quickly retaliated, commencing another vicious cycle of lightning reprisals and military escalations. Suddenly U.S. Read more >>

The late David Halberstam was a journalist, heart and soul, with a distinctive way of writing history

DAVID HALBERSTAM had put the finishing touches on his final book, The Coldest Winter, in the spring of 2007, just five days before his tragic death in a car accident in California. Read more >>

A magazine reporter covered the first American deaths in Vietnam, unaware that the soon-to-explode war would mark America’s awakening to maturity

On the evening of July 8, 1959, six of the eight American advisers stationed at a camp serving as the headquarters of a South Vietnamese army division 20 miles northeast of Saigon had settled down after supper in their mess to watch a movie, The Tattered Dress, starring Read more >>

How the U. S. military reinvented itself after Vietnam

January 11 Surgeon General Luther L. Terry releases his report on cigarette smoking. January 16 Hello, Dolly! opens at the St. James Theater in New York City. Read more >>

Viewing a transformation that still affects all of us—through the prism of a single year

It has been called the “burned-over decade,” a “dream and a nightmare,” the “definitive end of the Dark Ages, and the beginning of a more hopeful and democratic period” in American history. Read more >>

The explosion at the Army Math Center blew in the window near my laboratory desk

On Monday, August 24, 1970, I was a graduate student in organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. My research laboratory was in the chemistry building, and that morning I rode over on my bicycle to find broken glass everywhere. Read more >>
Army Math Read more >>

A search begun in a Washington, D.C., boardinghouse 140 years ago continues today as a $100-million-a-year effort to reunite the U.S. military and American families with their missing soldiers

Atop a half-mile-high mountain deep in the heart of the A Shau Valley in central Vietnam, a poisonous worm snake winds itself onto the edge of a spade. After a fleeting glance, the U.S. Read more >>
This is a journalist’s list. My reading (and knowledge) is greatly influenced by the events of the day, the time, the era. My reading and my work are often one and the same. That is one of the best things about being a writer, but it may not be ideal for list making. Read more >>
In his kaleidoscopic novel U.S.A., a trilogy published between 1930 and 1936, John Dos Passos offered a descriptive line that has always stayed with me. Read more >>

Forty years ago the USS Maddox fought the first battle of America’s longest war. How it happened—and even if it happened—are still fiercely debated.

From the combat information center (CIC) of the Destroyer USS Maddox, Commodore John Herrick radioed: “Am being approached by high speed craft with apparent intention of torpedo attack. Read more >>

Powered flight was born exactly one hundred years ago. It changed everything, of course—but most of all, it changed how we wage war.

Walter Boyne’s résumé makes for unusual reading. He is the author of 42 books and one of the few people to have had bestsellers on both the fiction and the nonfiction lists of The New York Times. Read more >>

How a patch of ground forged a man’s future, stole a part of his soul, and gave it back to him 30 years later

A historian argues that in Vietnam America’s cause was just, its arms effective, and its efforts undermined critics back home—and that this is how things must work in a free society

A tantalizing archival discovery suggests the perils of historical evidence

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE NOW, TENS OF THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS HAVE BEEN LEAVING LETTERS AND SNAPSHOTS, CIGARETTES AND CLOTHING AND BEER FOR THEIR FRIENDS, LOVERS, AND PARENTS WHO NEVER MADE IT BACK FROM VIETNAM

The faces of the American Dead in Vietnam” was Life magazine’s cover story on June 27, 1969. Photographs and brief biographies of the 242 Americans killed in action during one week, from May 28 to June 3, marched on for pages. Read more >>

A scholar searches across two centuries to discover the main engine of our government’s growth—and reaches a controversial conclusion

Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1835 that America had no neighbors and hence no enemies. Read more >>
It is dawn in Washington as Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, walks quickly from his helicopter at Andrews Air Force Base to board the jet bound for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Waiting for him there is a classroom full of the Army’s most successful and promising officers, colonels, and lieutenant colonels newly chosen to command brigades and battalions. Some of these officers will have fought in Grenada, in Panama, in the Gulf War, or all three. It is possible they will have to lead their soldiers in some other conflict before they leave command. Sullivan wants them to know who leads them. Read more >>

Jan Wollett found herself on the last flight of refugees out of a crumbling Da Nang in 1975

Early in 1973 a woman named Jan Wollett applied for a job as a flight attendant with World Airways, based in Oakland, California. Read more >>

The “loser decade” that at first seemed nothing more than a breathing space between the high drama of the 1960s and whatever was coming next is beginning to reveal itself as a bigger time than we thought

That’s it,” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then U.S. ambassador to India, wrote to a colleague on the White House staff in 1973 on the subject of some issue of the moment. “Nothing will happen. Read more >>

A civilian adventurer gave us the best artist’s record of America in Vietnam.

Let’s call him Frank. “He was in the war” is how adults explained Frank’s odd behavior a generation ago. As he walked through the small town then, his gait was clumsy, his clothes disheveled, and he seemed to go nowhere in particular. Read more >>

He didn’t want the job but felt he should do it. For the first time, the soldier who tracked down the My Lai story for the office of the inspector general in 1969 tells what it was like to do some of this era’s grimmest detective work.

In the early spring of 1969 I was an Army colonel recently assigned to the office of the inspector general in Washington, and I was not particularly happy about it; I have always disliked living in Washington, and I think that most infantry officers would rat Read more >>
When my daughter is old enough to ask about Vietnam, my answer to the question “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” will include many of the points assembled in Bill McCloud’s article. If she asks what I was doing then, I will tell her that I never fought there. Read more >>
I was saddened by the responses of so many eminent Americans when asked “What should we tell our children about Vietnam?” Myths about the nature of U.S. involvement predominate and cloud the real lessons that must be learned if we are to avoid another such tragedy. Read more >>

That was the question an Oklahoma high school teacher sent out in a handwritten note to men and women who had been prominent movers or observers during the Vietnam War. Politicians and journalists and generals and combat veterans answered him. Secretaries of Defense answered him. Presidents answered him. Taken together, the answers form a powerful and moving record of the national conscience.

Last year my principal and friend, Rick Elliott, told me that he wanted the Vietnam War to be covered more thoroughly than it had been in the social studies classes at our junior high school in Pryor, Oklahoma. Read more >>

Hard Looks at Hidden History

One of the more unlikely results of the American Revolution was Australia. Most American colonists came here voluntarily, of course, but until 1776 we meekly accepted boatloads of His Majesty’s convicts as indentured servants. Read more >>

Historians have failed to help Americans understand what the war was all about. So charges this scholar, author, and Vietnam veteran.

Instead of fading away, as some thought it would, interest in the Vietnam War seems to be growing steadily. Last year all three networks devoted hour-long specials to the tenth anniversary of the end of the war, with weighty pronouncements on the meaning of it all. Read more >>

A veteran reporter looks back to a time when the stakes were really high—and vet military men actually trusted newsmen.

One week in August 1942 several stories on the British war effort appeared on the wires of the Associated Press, written by an AP reporter based in London named Drew Middleton. Read more >>