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The Vietnam War tends to conjure up images of American soldiers battling an elusive enemy in thick jungle, the thudding of helicopters overhead. But there were in fact several Vietnam wars - an anticolonial war with France, a cold war turned hot with the United States, a civil war between North and South Vietnam and among the southern Vietnamese, a revolutionary war of ideas over what should guide Vietnamese society into its postcolonial future, and finally a war of memories after the official end of hostilities with the fall of Saigon in 1975. This book looks at how the Vietnamese themselves experienced all of these conflicts, showing how the wars for Vietnam were rooted in fundamentally conflicting visions of what an independent Vietnam should mean that in many ways remain unresolved to this day. Drawing upon twenty years of research, Mark Philip Bradley examines the thinking and the behaviour of the key wartime decision-makers in Hanoi and Saigon, while at the same time exploring how ordinary Vietnamese, northerners and southerners, men and women, soldiers and civilians, urban elites and rural peasants, radicals and conservatives, came to understand the thirty years of bloody warfare that unfolded around them - and how they made sense of its aftermath.
Mark Philip Bradley is Professor of History at The University of Chicago. He is the author of Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950, which won the Association for Asian Studies Harry Benda Prize, and the co-editor of Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars. He is currently completing a book that explores the place of the United States in the global human rights revolutions of the twentieth century.