While a truly great book on the Vietnam War, it is not - despite the title - truly a history of Vietnam itself, although Karnow does briefly outline some of Vietnam's early history. Unlike other books on the war, Karnow takes the time to trace the deeper origins of the conflict right back to France's earliest attempts to extend its empire to the region. Having been in Vietnam during the US-Vietnam war, and covered the post-WWII French conflict from Paris, Karnow is extremely familiar with his topic, and makes a real effort to interview all sides.
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