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ARVN: Life And Death in the South Vietnamese Army (Anglais) Relié – 15 juillet 2006

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Book by Brigham Robert K

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In the Republic of Vietnam of the mid-1960s, as in the United States, citizens' attitudes toward military service varied widely-and underwent momentous change. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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31 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Tough to read narrative but important book...to better understand Vietnam 5 mai 2006
Par Quang Pham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Like most academic books Brigham's latest work reads like a history book or a Ph.D. thesis. It has five chapters totaling 130 pages. The remaining 47 pages are Notes, Bibliography and Index. Thus the subtitle, "Life and Death of the South Vietnamese Army," is not quite complete just like one of the blurbs written by Jeffrey Kimball, "The best book I've read on the ARVN." Not surprisingly all the endorsements came from academics, most of whom have been harshly critical of the ARVN and the Republic of Vietnam in general. What separates this book from the others is Brigham's focus on ordinary South Vietnamese soldiers and veterans and not its audacious and flashy generals. Without a concrete vision and solid leadership by South Vietnamese officials, ARVN soldiers fell into the "family syndrome" and in the end, took care of their own. Not much was left to defend in 1975 when there was no longer a country, an army, or an ally to fight alongside. Little coverage is given to the ARVN's finest hours at An Loc, Xuan Loc, Quang Tri and the Cambodia and Laos incursions. Then again this is not a battle book per se. Chapter Five, "Families," summarizes the ARVN. "Exhausted, demoralized, and continually defeated, ARVN troops struggle to find meaning in the war." One thing is certain. No other army will ever be as scrutinized by their allies, on the battlefield, in the media and the ivory towers, than the ARVN. Not even after 31 years since the war had ended.
18 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Lacking dimensions 11 février 2009
Par Ming L. Mendonca - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
If this was a chapter of a book, then I would say that it was a good chapter, however, it is called a book and - according to the author - it is a history book; therefore in my opinion, it is extremely `khiem dien' (lacking dimensions).
To discuss issues such as morale, ideology, leadership and relationship without exploring the country in a global context, or examining external influences at different stages of the war is extremely naïve, in my opinion. Consider the following facts:
1) Vietnam in the 1950's was still trying to recover from `Nan Dói At Dau', the famine of 1945 that killed almost 2 million people owing to the mismanagement of both France and Japan, and the constant bombing by the US on the Japanese occupied coastal side.
2) During 1945 to 1950, Viet Minh systematically assassinated over 2000 nationalist leaders. This proved to be the most devastating blow to South Vietnam and its ARVN leadership in the 50's.
3) Assassinations of South Vietnamese leaders and intellectuals continued to be the central strategy for North Vietnam and their National Liberation Front. Between 1957 to 1973, they assassinated and abducted about 100,000 people ranging from political leaders, village heads to medical personnel and school teachers.
4) Vietnam was (and still is) one of the poorest countries in the world. The IMF yearbook published in 1977 indicated that the GDP per capita for South Vietnam in 1974 was $262 compared to $16,607.00 for the US in 1973.
Another problem is the not-so-credible sources cited by the book especially when it talks about the North Army. It is often said that history is written by the victor. The regurgitation of North Vietnam government published literature and propagandas as real information shows the naïveté of the author. As one reviewer has demonstrated, one can look at the statistics and come to the conclusion for oneself without falling into these simple Potemkin tricks.
My biggest problem however is to see how the Vietnamese language and concepts were misunderstood. For example, Cao Xuân Huy's `Tháng Ba Gãy Súng' cannot be translated as `The Marching of the Broken Rifles'. It should be `The Broken Guns of March'. Just as Barbara Tuchman's `The Guns Of August' is about the events in August 1914 - the first month of WWI, Cao Xuan Huy's `The Broken Guns of March' is about the his defeat in March 75, followed by the fall of Saigon. I believe that if Mr. Brigham had read this book (and books of Phan Nhat Nam which he also listed in his references), he would not miss the preamble, which explains the title. He also would have found plenty of heart breaking `Huynh De Chi Binh' or `band of brothers' stories - unfortunately, throughout this book, he sticks to the theme of `every man is for himself in the ARVN'. If he looked within the Vietnamese community here in the US, as well as in other democratic countries, he would have noticed the numbers of former ARVN associations and their `Huynh De Chi Binh' devotion to each other.
The Vietnamese concept `Giu Nuoc, Giu Nhà' is the one that is most blatantly misunderstood. The author claims that `Giu Nuoc, Giu Nhà' is a sub-national culture that redefines the war's meaning, saving their families because the nation could not be saved'. This is wrong. The formal words for `Nhà' (Family) is `Gia Dình', borrowed from the Chinese words '' and The formal words for `Nuoc' (Nation) is `Quoc Gia' also borrowed from the Chinese words '' which literally means `National Family'. As indicated, the word `Family' is deeply embedded in the word `Nation'. Symbolically and philosophically, families are the foundation of a nation. Vietnamese believe in the concept `Nuoc Mat, Nhà Tan' or `Country Lost, Family Gone', thus, `Giu Nuoc, Giu Nhà' means `Defend Your Country, Defense Your Home' - it is actually a war cry (motto) - and for an honorable Vietnamese man, `Tình Nhà, No Nuoc' are the two most important filial duties.
The concept `Giu Nuoc, Giu Nhà' is not unique to Vietnamese. From antiquity, men have fought to defend their homeland for the same reason. In ancient times, if they lost the war they also lost their families because the men would be killed and the women and children would be sold into slavery. This fact was described splendidly in Homer's epics, Euripides' plays and clearly recorded by historians such as Thucydides and Plutarch. Not very much has changed in modern times for the fate of the defeated. Men were either killed or made mercenaries and women, victims of rape and other atrocities. One can look at the atrocities Germany committed in Europe and Japan committed in South East Asia during WWII to see that this concept is not far fetched.
The 1970s was a painful period for South Vietnam. After 20 years of fighting with the help of the US, the ARVN had become of age. A new wave of leaders such as general Ngô Quang Truong, Lê Duc Thang, Lê Quang Luong, Nguyen Khoa Nam and Bùi The Lân showing remarkable leadership. Even more impressive were the younger officers who were holding lower commanding positions. Unfortunately, 1970s also saw the writing on the wall for them, first with the anti-war movements oversea, Nixon's friendship with China and finally with the total withdrawal, fund cutting of the US. South Vietnam's economy plummeted and government corruption ran even more amok. These events caused deterioration in soldiers' morale.
Even though the ARVN lost the war and faced its death in April 1975, it was two years after the US congress cut off funding. After the withdrawal of the US, they continued to fight and die for their cause and achieved many heroic victories. At the end, they just simply ran out of ammunition, fuel and supplies and could not fight against China and Russia's well supplied fighting machine of the North Vietnamese.
42 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
high school paper in book form 7 mai 2006
Par Van Pham - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book resemble a high school paper than a book from a serious historian, the book is quite short, total only 178 pages.

Some of the author arguments seems quite na?ve to anyone who knows Vietnamese history. For instances, the author one of the author claimed is that the ARVN was not effective because they did not use dan cong [civilian laborers ] to handle the war materials or use part time soldiers like the Ly, Tran dynasty. Brigham probably did not know that because of the intensity of the war, neither North or South Vietnam have the leisure of allowing their regular soldiers to be part time soldiers, even the example that Brigham uses about the constriction of the Ly and Tran only applied in peace time. Also, the RVN government did use part time soldiers, they are called Nhan Dan Tu Ve [Civillian Defense Force] and the Nhan Dan Tu Ve did quite well in many cases.

Brigham was correct in saying that the North Vietnamese uses civilians laborers to handle the war materials but he was wrong in his defend and legitimization for this kind of system. According to the book "2000 Ngay Dem Tran Thu Cu Chi" [2000 Nights Defending Cuchi], Duong Dinh Loi, the former military leader of the Vietcong forces in Cu Chi and a 20 years member of the Vietnamese Communist Party reveals that VC and NVA have a policy of forcing civilians in there are of control to contribute 6 months of free labor out of a year, every year to their cause by transporting war materials to various depot. International laws recognize those who transport or carry weapons to be combatant and therefore it is legal for the U.S to bombs and kills these civilians porters, the South Vietnamese recognizes this dilemma therefore they did not force their civilians to become military porters to avoid having civilians kill needlessly, yet for this they were vilified by Brigham . If George W. Bush forces all Americans to have to spend 6 months out of a years transporting war materials in Iraq until the war ends, would Brigham consider this a great idea?

Another point in this book that I have a problem with, have to do with Brigham mistaken of the often use Vietnamese phrase "giu nuoc, giu nha [defending the country, defending the home/family", the word giu nha means defending the home or family, yet Brigham take this to means the ARVN only fight to defend their family and Brigham uses some of the quotes from the former ARVN and their family out of context to support this point.

Brigham contention that many of the ARVN were former French supporter is inaccurate in that many ARVN formerly joined the Vietminh to fight against the French and only left Vietminh after the "anti Nationalist, anti-bourgeois" purges within the Vietminh, my father himself was one of the victim of such purge. Brigham also ignore the fact that uncle Ho signed the Modus Viviendi agreement with Sainteny on March 6 1945, allowing the French to legally send troops to Vietnam, Ho also cooperate with the French in exterminating non Communist parties in Vietnam, was broke out between Ho and the French in 1946 only after the French have exterminated the Quoc Dan Dang, Dai Viet and other non-Communist parties.

The ARVN was formed on May 11 1950 after France and Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai sign the treaty of Auriol on March 8, 1949 in which France agreed to grant Vietnam her independent. According to Archimedes L. A. Patti , the former OSS agent in Vietnam, the treaty of Auriol gave Vietnam something that Ho Chi Minh have always demanded from the French but did not get. Brigham also ignores the fact that the Vietminh were use by the Mao as mercenaries to keep the Kuomintang forces in southern China from being move north to fight Mao, this fact was confirmed by the official Socialist Republic of Vietnam official history book.

Although the main focus of this book is about the ARVN and their family, the book completely ignore the plight of the ARVN and their family after the war when over 1 millions former government officials and former ARVN were sent to the Corrective Labored Re-education Camps without trials, some interned for as long as 18 years. Over 165,000 died or executed in these "re-education" camps, another 100,000 died in the New economic zone. ARVN family members were sent to work as slave laborers in the so-called New Economic Zones.

Another problem with Brigham book is that it completely ignore recently release MACV documents like the Abrams tapes in assessing the ARVN, instead he uses only information from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam government archive, in fact very few books written by former ARVN in America was use by Brigham in his book except for the book Doi Quan Ngu, great South Vietnamese author like Phan Nhat Nam who is currently residing in California was not interview nor was his works use by Brigham.

Recently the Vietnam Center in Lubbock held a conference assessing the ARVN called "ARVN: Reflections and Reassessment After 30 years", a large number of respected historians was there including James H. Willbanks, Mark Moyar, Bill Laurie (Brigham was a no show). Anyone interested in the ARVN can go the Vietnam Center at Lubbock website and get the whole conference video and papers for free instead of paying for this high school paper.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A very different look at the maligned ARVN 23 juillet 2007
Par Dimitrios - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This book is a fine introduction to the much maligned ARVN which fought and finally lost a terrible 20 years war. It is only though a social history of the ARVN and the author doesn't delve into pure military matters, such as organisation, weapons and doctrine. The fields he covers in an excellent way are the recruitment, the training, the financial aspects of the soldiers' lives, the crucial role of families as the core of social fabric, the cultural peculiarities of Vietnam and the inability of the US advisers to recognize those facts early enough. Although there is a chapter devoted to ARVN battles, the material is very short to satisfy the reader who wants a deeper analysis. For this, you can look at Willbanks' excellent book "Abandoning Vietnam" which is a terrific addition to the studies of ARVN between 1968 and 1975. Mr Brigham's book has no maps and only a handful of bad quality b/w photos.
Much-needed historical account of the ARVN 15 novembre 2014
Par Kev Minh Allen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book has proven to be a valuable resource in my further studies of the former Republic of Vietnam. Weaving in anecdotal evidence from infantrymen and officers with hard data, Brigham makes a compelling case that both the national and military experiments set up by the U.S. to counter the Vietnamese Communist forces were doomed to failure.

Corruption and official indifference committed by many prominent officials of the South Vietnamese government and army chiefs trickled on down until these things infected the culture, morale and day-to-day processes among the troops. It also didn't help that the U.S. took over the major military role in the summer of 1965 and then tried giving it back to the ARVN a couple of years before the war's end.

All in all, the book gives a proper overview of the problems, as well as some well-earned successes, experienced by individuals who were either conscripted into or volunteered for service in the ARVN.

One of the few weaknesses in the book is Brigham's contention that family is what most ARVN personnel were fighting and dying for, especially toward the end of the war when all was lost. The theory is that without a solid and cogent sense of national identity and mission the sheer survival of a soldier's family became the utmost importance to him. It's hard to quantify and prove such a theory based on interviews, diaries and letters, but these are all Brigham can offer and hopes they can satisfy the reader's curiosity.
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