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Saigon at War
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Book description

During South Vietnam's brief life as a nation, it exhibited glimmers of democracy through citizen activism and a dynamic press. South Vietnamese activists, intellectuals, students, and professionals had multiple visions for Vietnam's future as an independent nation. Some were anticommunists, while others supported the National Liberation Front and Hanoi. In the midst of war, South Vietnam represented the hope and chaos of decolonization and nation building during the Cold War. U.S. Embassy officers, State Department observers, and military advisers sought to cultivate a base of support for the Saigon government among local intellectuals and youth, but government arrests and imprisonment of political dissidents, along with continued war, made it difficult for some South Vietnamese activists to trust the Saigon regime. Meanwhile, South Vietnamese diplomats, including anticommunist students and young people who defected from North Vietnam, travelled throughout the world in efforts to drum up international support for South Vietnam. Drawing largely on Vietnamese language sources, Heather Stur demonstrates that the conflict in Vietnam was really three wars: the political war in Saigon, the military war, and the war for international public opinion.

Reviews

'Stur has given us a fascinating and wonderfully readable account of South Vietnam’s diverse political milieu during the American war. Using Vietnamese and American sources, she illuminates the failures of nation-building in light of the complex allegiances and activities of South Vietnam’s own citizens. This is an immensely valuable contribution covering an understudied period in South Vietnam’s domestic political history.'

Jessica Chapman - Associate Professor of History, Williams College

'In Saigon at War, Heather Stur depicts the vibrant and riotous political culture of South Vietnam’s wartime capital. While Saigon had its share of corruption and dysfunction during the Vietnam War, it was also a city of students, soldiers, diplomats, religious leaders, peace activists, and communist agitprop agents In Stur’s vivid account, Saigon was the place where South Vietnam’s democratic aspirations rose and fell - a city in which violence and venality often collided with dreams of self-determination, liberation and peace.'

Edward Miller - Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth College

'Saigon at War is an insightful study of the complexities of the South Vietnamese capital during wartime. Impressively researched, including a deep dive into Vietnamese language archival sources, Stur‘s book introduces Vietnamese voices into the narrative of the political war in Saigon and the war for international public opinion, voices that all too often have been left out of the story of the war. This book very effectively rights that wrong and is a worthy and needed addition to the historiography of the war.'

James H. Willbanks - Professor Emeritus of Military History, US Army Command and General Staff College and author of Abandoning Vietnam and A Raid Too Far

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Contents

  • 1 - The Heart of South Vietnam
    pp 25-51
  • Saigon In The Sixties

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