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.