Professor: David T. Courtwright
Institution: University of North Florida
Date: Fall 1995
Books for Review
The following list is anything but comprehensive. Indeed, it is probably no longer possible for one person to list, let alone read, all the books written on the 1960s and Vietnam. I've chosen these books because they lend themselves to student reviews. I've annotated some of the non-obvious titles and added a few comments or recommendations of my own. I'll be glad to personally help you select a book that fits your interests.
Adams, Sam. War of Numbers: An Intelligence Memoir. Posthumous memoir of CIA analyst who blew whistle on undercounting of VC strength.
Atkinson, Rick. The Long Gray Line. Follows the West Point Class of 1966 through the Vietnam war and its aftermath; highly recommended.
Ambrose, Stephen. Nixon. Three-volume biography, dealing with 1913-62, 1962-72, and 1973-90, respectively; read any one of the three volumes.
Bork, Robert H. The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law. Critique of judicial activism, particularly of the Warren and Burger Courts in the 1960s and 1970s.
Brown, H. Rap, Die, Nigger, Die. Strident but witty polemic.
Bunzel, John H., ed. Political Passages: Journeys of Change Through Two Decades, 1968-1988. Neoconservative memoirs.
Caro, Robert, Means of Ascent. LBJ's disputed senate victory.
Conkin, Paul K. Big Daddy from the Pedernales: Lyndon Baines Johnson. The author is one of America's best known and most prolific intellectual and political historians.
Clodfelter, Mark. The Limits of Airpower: The American Bombing of North Vietnam.
Dallek, Robert. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times: 1908-1960. LBJ's early and mid-career.
DeForest, Orrin & Chanoff, David. Slow Burn: The Rise and Bitter Fall of American Intelligence in Vietnam.
Donovan, David. Once a Warrior King. Memoirs of military advisor in Mekong Delta.
Eschmann, Karl J. Linebacker: The Untold Story of the Air Raids Over North Vietnam. 1972 "Linebacker II" air assault on North Vietnam.
Franklin, H. Bruce. MIA or Myuthmaking in America. If you feel strongly abot the POW/MIA issue, then take on this book.
Garrow, David. Bearing the Cross: Martin Lutehr King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Garrow is a leading student of King's career.
Garrow, David. The FBI and Martin Luther King.
Giglio, James N. The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. One volume synthesis.
Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. Does for (or to) the New Left what Matusow does for the liberals; highly recommended.
Haldeman, H.R. The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House. Straightforward but occasionally eye-opening account; good for those with a taste for primary sources.
Hallin, Daniel. The Uncensored War: The Media and Vietnam. Early entry in a field that has attracted much attention.
Hamilton, Nigel. JFK, Reckless Youth. Best-selling pathobiology of the young John Kennedy.
Hannah, Norman B. The Key to Failure: Laos and the Vietnam War.
Hasford, Gustav, The Short-Timers. Source of Stanley Kubrick's Full-Metal Jacket.
Hayslip, Le Ly. When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace. Vietnamese peasant girl caught between the rock of the ARVN and the hard place of the Viet Cong; made into an Oliver Stone movie.
Hearden, Patrick. The Tragedy of Vietnam. Postmortem.
Hearden, Patrick, ed. Vietnam: Four American Perspectives: Lectures by George S. McGovern, William C. Westmoreland, Edward N. Luttwak, and Thomas J. McCormick.
Hellman, John. American Myth and the Legacy of Vietnam. Literary study.
Herr, Michael. Dispatches. Journalist's intensely personal memoir of Vietnam, perhaps the single most famous and highly regarded book on the war.
Hersh, Seymour. My Lai. Account by investigative reporter who uncovered the civilian massacre.
Hilsman, Roger. To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John F. Kennedy. Insider's account.
Hy V. Luong, with Nguyen Dac Bang. Revolution in the Village: Tradition and Transformation in North Vietnam, 1925-1988. Sociocultural study.
Joes, Anthony James. The War for South Viet Nam, 1954-1975.
Katz, Michael B. The Undeserving Poor: From the War on Poverty to the War on Welfare. If you like Lemann, you might like this history of poverty policy and controversies.
Kearns, Doris. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. Insider bio.
Kennedy, Stetson. Jim Crow Guide to the USA: The Laws, Customs, and Etiquette Governing the Conduct of Nonwhites and Other Minorities as Second-Class Citizens. Kennedy is a North Florida author and celebrity.
Kimball, Roger. Tenured Radicals. Attack on academic legacy of 1960s.
Kissinger, Henry. White House Years. Memoir of key figure in the war's endgame.
Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities. The persistance of segregated, second-class schools 35 years after Brown; recommended reading for education students.
Kurtz, Michael, Crime of the Century. Historian's investigation of JKF assassination.
Kutler, Stanley I. The Wars of Watergate: The Last Crisis of Richard Nixon. Historical analysis of the Watergate scandal.
Lanning, Michael Lee & Dann Cragg. Inside the VC and the NVA: The Real Story of North Vietnam's Armed Forces. "We believe our book is unique because it considers not how we Americans lost the war but how the communists won it."
McCartney, John T. Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African-American Political Thought. Historical roots of Black Power movement.
Macdonald, Peter. Giap: The Victor in Vietnam. Bio of Ho Chi Minh's legendary general.
Magnet, Myron. The Dream and the Nightmare: The Sixties' Legacy to the Underclass. How cultural and sexual revolutionaries misled the poor.
McNamara, Robert S. In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam. Mea culpa from former Sec. of Defense who presided over Vietnam escalation and then dissented; opened old wounds when published in 1995.
McDougall, Walter. The Heavens and the Earth. Political history of space exploration.
McGinnis, Joe. The Selling of the President, 1968. A classic; highly recommended for communication and political science majors.
Mailor, Norman. The Armies of the Night. Celebrated and self-celebrating account of march on the Pentagon.
Malcolm X, with Alex Haley. Autobiography of Malcolm X. Life of a man whose influence has never stopped growing.
Mangold, Tom & John Peycate. The Tunnels of Cu Chi [Vietnam].
Miller, Timothy. The Hippies and American Values. Hippies as cultural revolutionaries.
Murray, Charles. Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980. Seminal conservative attack on the welfare state expansion of the 1960s.
Ngo Vinh Long. Before the Revolution: The Vietnamese Peasants Under the French. Development of anti-imperialist sentiment.
Noonan, Peggy. What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era. Child of the 1960s becomes a Reagan/Bush speech writer; candid and interesting.
Oates, Stephen. Let the Trumpet Sound. Biography of M.L. King, Jr.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. O'Brien is possibly the best writer to come out of the war; these stories hover between fact and fiction.
Pichaske, David. A Generation in Motion: Popular Music and Culture in the Sixties. Lively survey.
Posner, Gerald L. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. Best of the Oswald-done-it books; if you think Oswald didn't do it, read this and tell me why not.
Rainwater, Lee. The Moynihan Report and the Politics of Controversy. Retrospective on the controversial Moynihan report, the bleak "racial prophecy" described in Lemann.
Ralph, James R., Jr. Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement. Account of the movement's first major impasse.
Reeves, Thomas C. A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy. Dark side of the hero-prince.
Robbins, Christopher. The Ravens: The Men Who Flew in America's Secret War in Laos. An exceptionally well-written book; recommended to anyone interested in the uses and abuses of air power.
Rose, Mark H. Interstate: Express Highway Politics, 1939-1989. The highway revolution that transformed American cities.
Rusk, Dean, as told to Richard Rusk. As I Saw It. Oral memoir of key historical actor.
Sale, Kirkpatrick. SDS. Early account by a radical journalist.
Santoli, Al. Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War.
Santoli, Al. To Bear Any Burden. Sequel to Everything We Had.
Schell, Jonathan. The Village of Ben Suc [Vietnam].
Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Imperial Presidency. History of presidential war-making power focusing on Nixon and Vietnam.
Shawcross, William. Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia.
Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. America's defeat in Vietnam as reflected in the career of a controversial officer; absorbing reading.
Small, Melvin. Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves. Antiwar politics.
Specter, Ronald. Advice and Support: The Early Years of the U.S. Army in Vietnam. The author is a highly regarded military historian.
Stephens, Jay. Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream.
Terry, Wallace. Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans.
Thompson, Hunter S. Hell's Angels. Pre-Gonzo, but great topic.
VanDeMark, Brian. Lyndon Johnson and the Escalation of the Vietnam War.
Walker, Keith. A Piece of My Heart: The Stories of Twenty-Six American Women Who Served in Vietnam.
Wells, Tom. The War Within: America's Battle Over Vietnam. "Fascinating, well-researched, though somewhat bloated chronicle" that argues the success of the antiwar movement.
White, Theodore. The Making of the President, 1960. Definitely pre-Gonzo.
Wiener, Jon. Come Together: John Lennon in HIs Time. Beatle bio based on FBI files.
Willenson, Kim. The Bad War: An Oral History of the Vietnam War.
Willson, David. REMF Diary. Vietnam bureaucrat tells all; ex-military will enjoy this book.
Young, Marilyn. The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990. Dual-perspective synthesis.