Embers of War by Fredrik Logevall
The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam

81%

9 Critic Reviews

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.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
 
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.
 
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
 
“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
 
“Lucid and vivid . . . [a] definitive history.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“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.”—The Christian Science Monitor
 
“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.”—The Economist
 
“Fascinating, beautifully written . . . Logevall’s account provides much new detail and important new insights. . . . It is impossible to read the book without being struck by contemporary parallels.”—Foreign Policy
 
“[A] brilliant history of how the French colonial war to hang on to its colonies in Indochina became what the Vietnamese now call ‘the American war.’”—Esquire
 
“An excellent, valuable book.”—The Dallas Morning News
 

About Fredrik Logevall

See more books from this Author
Fredrik Logevall is John S. Knight Professor of International Studies and professor of history at Cornell University, where he serves as director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.
 
Published August 21, 2012 by Random House. 864 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Embers of War
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
Reviewed by Fredrik Logevall on Jul 01 2012

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.

Read Full Review of Embers of War: The Fall of an... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Apr 02 2012

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.

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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Rufus Phillips on Aug 24 2012

What Mr. Logevall fails to consider is whether American intervention at various points might have taken a less clumsy form, one more attuned to South Vietnamese aspirations and realities.

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The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Gordon Goldstein on Sep 19 2013

Logevall’s outstanding account concludes with Vietnam’s fate inextricably linked to the projection of American power in the periphery of Southeast Asia.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Jordan Michael Smith on Aug 29 2012

Logevall is an historian at Cornell University whose resume boasts several books on the Vietnam War. Here he shows how the French colonization of Southeast Asia that began in the late 19th century deeply influenced the Americans’ failures in that region.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Alan Brinkley on Sep 09 2012

Logevall is not only skilled at describing the war. He is also adept at explaining the diplomacy of Vietnam during the 1950s.

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HistoryNet

Good
Reviewed by David Zabecki on Feb 27 2013

Vietnam, like all wars, will not come into proper focus until long after the participants at all levels are gone. In the meantime, books like Embers of War are vital contributions to the ongoing analysis.

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HistoryNet

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Dolan on Jul 10 2012

Logevall's prose is clean, his logic relentless, his tone unsparing, his vision broad and deep, his empathy expansive. Even though you know how it ends—and it ends at what many deem the beginning, in 1959—the story he tells is compelling.

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Reviews in History

Excellent
Reviewed by Scott Midgley on Feb 01 2013

Logevall has written a fascinating book, perhaps the definitive work on this aspect of the greater Vietnam issue. Most do not understand the importance of the events that led to direct American involvement, and this is a very accessible, well-researched work that captures how and why decisions were made during and after the French disaster.

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88%

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