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Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam
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WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZEONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED WORKS OF HISTORY IN RECENT YEARSWinner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award
  • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BYThe Washington Post
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Globe and Mail Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France's final years in Indochina—and shows how, from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history. An epic story of wasted opportunities and deadly miscalculations, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Embers of War is a gripping, heralded work that illuminates the hidden history of the French and American experiences in Vietnam. Praise for Embers of War "A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war."—Pulitzer Prize citation "This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence."—Francis Parkman Prize citation "A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date."The Wall Street Journal "Superb . . . a product of formidable international research."The Washington Post
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    Street Date:
    08/21/2012
    Language:
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    ISBN:
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    APA Citation (style guide)

    Fredrik Logevall. (2012). Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Random House Publishing Group.

    Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

    Fredrik Logevall. 2012. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Random House Publishing Group.

    Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

    Fredrik Logevall, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Random House Publishing Group, 2012.

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    Fredrik Logevall. Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam. Random House Publishing Group, 2012. Web.

    Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        • bioText: Fredrik Logevall is Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs and professor of history at Harvard University. A specialist on U.S. foreign relations history and modern international history, he is the author or editor of nine books, most recently Embers of War, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Francis Parkman Prize.
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    WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

    ONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED WORKS OF HISTORY IN RECENT YEARS

    Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award
  • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    The Washington Post
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Globe and Mail
    Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France's final years in Indochina—and shows how, from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history. An epic story of wasted opportunities and deadly miscalculations, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Embers of War is a gripping, heralded work that illuminates the hidden history of the French and American experiences in Vietnam.

    Praise for Embers of War

    "A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war."—Pulitzer Prize citation

    "This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence."—Francis Parkman Prize citation

    "A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date."The Wall Street Journal

    "Superb . . . a product of formidable international research."The Washington Post
  • reviews
        • premium: False
        • source: Francis Parkman Prize citation
        • content:

          "This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence."

        • premium: False
        • source: Pulitzer Prize citation
        • content: "A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war."
        • premium: False
        • source: Wall Street Journal
        • content: "Superb . . . penetrating . . . Embers of War is a product of formidable international research. It is lucidly and comprehensively composed. And it leverages a consistently potent analytical perspective. . . . Outstanding."--Gordon Goldstein, The Washington Post "A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date."
        • premium: False
        • source: Jonathan Mirsky, New York Review of Books
        • content: "The most comprehensive account available of the French Vietnamese war, America's involvement, and the beginning of the US-directed struggle. . . . [Embers of War tells] the deeply immoral story of the Vietnam wars convincingly and more fully than any others. Since many of the others, some written over fifty years ago, are excellent, this is a considerable achievement."
        • premium: False
        • source: Foreign Affairs
        • content: "Magisterial."
        • premium: False
        • source: Gary R. Hess, San Francisco Chronicle
        • content: "The definitive history of the critical formative period from 1940 to 1960 [in Vietnam]. . . . lucid and vivid . . . As American involvement escalated, Bernard Fall, the highly respected scholar-journalist of Vietnam's wars, wrote that Americans were 'dreaming different dreams than the French but walking in the same footsteps.' Fredrik Logevall brilliantly explains that legacy."
        • premium: False
        • source: The Christian Science Monitor
        • content: "Embers of War is simply an essential work for those seeking to understand the worst foreign-policy adventure in American history. . . . Even though readers know how the story ends--as with "The Iliad"--they will be as riveted by the tale as if they were hearing it for the first time."
        • premium: False
        • source: The Economist
        • content: "A remarkable new history . . . Logevall skillfully explains everything that led up to Vietnam's fatal partition in 1954 . . . [and] peppers the grand sweep of his book with vignettes of remarkable characters, wise and foolish."
        • premium: False
        • source: Foreign Policy
        • content: "Fascinating, beautifully-written . . . Logevall's account provides much new detail and important new insights. . . . It is impossible not to read the book without being struck by contemporary parallels."
        • premium: False
        • source: Vietnam Magazine
        • content: "[A] brilliant history of how the French colonial war to hang onto its colonies in Indochina became what the Vietnamese now call 'the American war.'"--Charles Pierce, Esquire "Huge and engrossing . . . [Logevall] writes with an ambitious sweep and an instinct for pertinent detail. . . . If Logevall's earlier work stood up well in a crowded field, Embers of War stands alone. . . . What if [Embers] had been mandatory reading for Kennedy and his policy makers?"--The National Interest "Very much worth the read, both for the story and the writing. . . . Embers of War has the balance and heft to hold hindsight's swift verdicts at bay. . . An excellent, valuable book."--The Dallas Morning News "An encompassing, lucid account of the 40-year arc in which America's Southeast Asian adventure became inevitable . . . Logevall's prose is clean, his logic relentless, his tone unsparing, his vision broad and deep, his empathy expansive."
        • premium: False
        • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
        • content: "How easy it is to forget how it all started. The events pile on one another, new battles begin each day, demands for decisions encroach--and soon enough everything is incremental. Cornell historian Fredrik Logevall steps back from the edge and--parting from most Vietnam War studies that focus on the Kennedy and Johnson administrations--reaches back to World War II to give a fresh picture of America imagining itself into the Vietnam War. . . . [Embers of War puts] flesh on barebones assertions that occupy a few sentences or paragraphs in many Vietnam accounts. . . . startling."--The VVA Veteran "A superbly written and well-ar
        • premium: True
        • source: Publisher's Weekly
        • content:

          Starred review from April 2, 2012
          Cornell University’s Logevall specializes in the Vietnam War’s international aspects. His latest work masterfully pre-sents the war’s roots in the U.S. reaction to the French colonial experience. And that experience was inextricably linked to the global changes wrought by WWII, the beginning of the cold war, and America’s new role as the pre-eminent power in Asian and world affairs. Without neglecting the military aspects of the Franco-Indochina War and its aftermath, Logevall concentrates on political and diplomatic aspects. He presents “a contingent , full of alternative political choices.” Initially, the odds were against the Viet Minh—but France could never decide to seek a compromise. With Vietnam’s division after the Franco-Indochina War’s end in 1954, Ngo Dinh Diem dominated South Vietnam’s politics. But his limited concept of leadership and facile resort to repression alienated anticommunist nationalists. That was America’s problem as well. Logevall makes a detailed case that America’s Vietnam involvement replicated the French experience: the U.S. was fighting against an anticolonialist revolution and giving the Democratic Republic of Vietnam legitimacy that would be neither discredited nor defeated in 10 more years of war. 43 photos, 13 maps. Agent: John Dawkins & Associates.

        • premium: True
        • source: Kirkus
        • content:

          July 15, 2012
          Comprehensive history of the early years of what in Vietnam is called "the American War"--the time in which one Western power took the place of another, only for both to be defeated. Logevall (International Studies and History/Cornell Univ.; Terrorism and 9/11: A Reader, 2002, etc.) opens his long, deeply complex narrative with a little-known event: namely, a fact-finding mission to Vietnam on the part of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1951, reporting on his return home that France was foolishly trying to cling to an empire even as the people of Vietnam rejected the French-installed Vietnamese puppet government. But much as President Obama inherited George W. Bush's war in Iraq, by the time Kennedy became president, he was saddled with Truman's and then Eisenhower's Vietnam. Logevall is careful to point to roads-not-taken without belaboring the point, to which readers will respond all the same by wishing, for one thing, that Franklin Roosevelt had lived beyond 1945--for it was he who was urging a postwar world without overseas empires, who "had reached the conclusion that, for good or ill, complete independence was foreordained for all or almost all the European colonies." In the real development of early events, there was nothing foreordained, however; much of what shaped up in Vietnam was the result of historical accidents, such as the fact that, as Logevall notes, the Potsdam Agreement favored Ho Chi Minh by placing northern Vietnam under Chinese control, which allowed his Viet Minh to build up its armaments and political power. The opposition mounted by Ngo Dinh Diem, though, was ineffectual; he had enough on his hands trying to deal with the organized crime gangs that really ran South Vietnam. By the end of 1963, things really were locked into inevitability, especially after Ho decided to escalate the war precisely in order to make the Americans go home. It didn't work that way, of course. Logevall's exhaustive study shows chapter and verse why not--and why the ensuing American war was doomed to fail.

          COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

        • premium: True
        • source: Library Journal
        • content:

          March 1, 2012

          Yes, many, many books have been written about Vietnam. But Cornell history professor Logevall is presented as leading a new generation of scholars now investigating the debacle. Over the course of 12 years, he did original research in diplomatic archives in Hanoi, Paris, and Washington, finally concluding that, like France, America failed to recognize the realities of Vietnam. Covering the four-decade buildup to the war, this book is called definitive. We'll see, but it's certainly important--and certainly scarily relevant today.

          Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

        • premium: True
        • source: Booklist
        • content:

          July 1, 2012
          Most American studies of the Vietnam War concentrate on the period following the introduction of U.S. combat units under President Johnson. However, contemporary Vietnamese accounts view the American phase as the concluding act of a prolonged nationalist struggle to gain independence from Western imperialism. Logevall, professor of history at Cornell, leans toward the latter approachthat is, American involvement must be inseparably linked to the doomed French effort to maintain imperial control over Indochina. Of course, American policy makers insisted their goals were different; unlike the French, they wanted an independent South Vietnam free from both colonial and communist control. Yet, as Logevall eloquently illustrates, the U.S. followed essentially the same dreary path and made the same errors as its French predecessors. We failed to comprehend the nationalist yearnings of Vietnamese communists and were blind to their support among a wide swath of the people. That blindness led us to prop up hopelessly inept or hopelessly compromised Vietnamese leaders like Ngo Dinh Diem. This is a superbly written and well-argued reinterpretation of our tragic experience in Vietnam.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

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    WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

    ONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED WORKS OF HISTORY IN RECENT YEARS

    Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award
  • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
    The Washington Post
  • The Christian Science Monitor
  • The Globe and Mail
    Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of...
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