The Vietnam War Era


The Vietnam War Era

A Personal Journey

Bruce O. Solheim
With a new afterword by the author

280 pages


November 2008


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Vietnam War continues to haunt America’s collective memory. With only the Civil War surpassing the Vietnam War in terms of national divisiveness, earlier discord continues as conflicting lessons from the Vietnam War are applied to current U.S. war policy.

Bruce O. Solheim provides a broad picture of the Vietnam War era at home and in Southeast Asia by combining historical narrative with biographical profiles and personal reflections, allowing the story to unfold in multiple layers, as seen from all sides of the conflict through the eyes of those who were actually involved.

In The Vietnam War Era, Solheim explores, and hopes to answer, vital questions about the American war in Vietnam. What lessons have Americans learned from our defeat, and how should we apply that knowledge in implementing current foreign policy? How do we fit the Vietnam War era into our greater historical narrative?

Author Bio

Bruce O. Solheim, a former U.S. Army aviator, is a professor of history and the volunteer veterans coordinator at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including Women in Power: World Leaders since 1960 and The Nordic Nexus: A Lesson in Peaceful Security.


“A unique and insightful look at [the Vietnam War] period. The first three-fourths of the book is an excellent summary of the history of the Vietnam War with enlightening sidebars on many people who were involved in it from Gen. Earle Wheeler to Oliver Stone. Solheim completes the book with a riveting account of his personal story, including details of his older brother's Vietnam War experiences and his two Army tours of duty after the Vietnam War.”—Vietnam Veterans of America

"A scholarly treatise on a haunting subject that requires ongoing and thorough examination. America's military actions in Southeast Asia and the resulting turmoil at home created a large and complex set of events that defy simple or easy explanations. Solheim's book will help students of the American war in Vietnam define and understand the issues involved in this tragic Cold War conflict. The volume is timely, gripping and infused with intelligent insight."—Walter Jones, Assistant Head of Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library University of Utah-Salt Lake City

"Bruce Solheim's 'people's history' reminds us of the human dimensions of warfare. It underscores what Americans too often ignore—the Vietnamese as well as the American side of America's longest war. Solheim provides biographical sketches of a wide range of men and women, whose ideas, experiences, and roles illuminate the war. This is an important contribution."—Gary R. Hess, Distinguished Research Professor Bowling Green State University Former President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

"Bruce Solheim's book is ideal for the classroom, with its historical narrative interspersed with profiles of the major players in the U.S. and Vietnam during and surrounding the war. But what gives it special relevance is his personal account of the era, told through child's-eye memoir, letters from his brother in Vietnam, and later musings on how his early experiences shaped the man he has become. It is this that sets it well above histories that deal in dates, battles and statistics, and brings home the persistent influence of this war on the Americans who were touched by it."—Susan O'Neill, author of Don't Mean Nothing: Short Stories of Viet Nam

“As a participant in the Vietnam War, I was fascinated to read Bruce Solheim's take on what was going on behind the scenes. His personal experiences combined with dead-on historical research add depth and authenticity to this account. The Vietnam War Era is an excellent read for those curious to know how our politicians led us down such an ill-advised and ill-fated path.”—Robert Mason, author of Chickenhawk

Table of Contents

List of People Profiled
Introduction: A People's History
I. Ancient Adversaries, Adventurers, and Advisors, 1000 BC to 1963
1. Origins of Vietnamese Nationalism
2. French-Viet Minh War
3. Enter America - Nation Building with Eisenhower - Kennedy and Vietnam
II. Packs and Rifles, 1964-1967
4. Escalation
5. American Strategies - Air War - Ground War: Search and Destroy
6. Leadership in North Vietnam
III. Fighting for Peace, 1968-1972
7. The War at Home
8. Peace with Honor
9. Exit America
IV. Back in the World, 1973-1975
10. Home Front - Anti-war Protesting - The Media, Public Opinion, and the War
11. A Decent Interval - Watergate - End of the War - The Debated Legacy of Vietnam
12. Personal History - Paris of the East - The Nuclear Family - Where is Vietnam? - We Gotcha Now - I Shall Return - TDY - Vietnamization on the Half Shell - Fighting for Peace - The Machine - It Ain't Over till It's Over - My Brother's Keeper - Be All You Can Be - The Fool - Santayana's Warning - An Officer and a Gentleman - E Pluribus Unum - Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow - Unacceptable Loss - Teaching - Bruce's Return - The War Comes Home
Conclusion: That Faraway Place in All of Us
Selected Bibliography

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