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Vietnam III: The World at War

Episode description

Well, we’re making time now, and I hope that keeps up. I’ve got some interesting stuff to show you today. First is the cover image for the show. That’s Ho Chi Minh on the left and Vo Nguyen Giap on the right along with their American OSS Deer Team advisors, who we’ll hear a fair bit about this show.

Here’s another one of Giap and ‘OSS Agent 19’ along with their American advisors.

The OSS teams supplied and trained Giap’s burgeoning Viet Minh guerrilla forces and served as political liaisons between Ho and the US regional military headquarters in Kunming in China. They followed the Vietnamese freedom fighters all the way into Hanoi after the Japanese ousted the French and then surrendered in 1945.

Here we’ve got the OSS walking as part of the procession towards Ba Dinh Square on September 2, 1945, shortly before Ho declared Vietnamese independence.

This below is a closer shot of Ho making that announcement, or it purports to be. Either the framing makes it look like Ho is in a studio, versus on a stage in Ba Dinh, or Ho’s actually in a studio and this photo has nothing to do with the announcement in Hanoi that day. Either way, the old revolutionary’s announcing something.

Then we’ve got Giap and his fighters participating in a reception at the American villa in Hanoi after the independence day celebrations:

I cannot imagine what guys like Westmoreland must have thought when the Pentagon Papers came out, along with photos like this, of American officers and Vietnamese guerrillas saluting the US flag and singing “The Star Spangled Banner” together.

Speaking of the Pentagon Papers, another topic we’ll touch on this show is Ho’s numerous attempts to reach out officially to the highest levels of US government. The OSS officers in touch with him, I think, had an impression that he was trying to negotiate primarily through them, but Ho had a much savvier view of who really held the American cards. Here’s a page from the now declassified Pentagon study:

Another page I found pretty interesting (and while I wish I could, there is no way I can make any kind of thorough reading of the Papers. The volume that covers just the period of this show is 245 pages, and the total study has nearly fifty volumes. They’re all available through the National Archives’ site, and they are interesting on every single page.

McNamara had them prepared as an internal Pentagon investigation into how the war had gotten started and how it was going. He was well into his guilty phase by that point, when he’d personally figured out that it was a horrorshow from the beginning, and the study that became the Pentagon Papers was a kind of first step towards atonement, although he wanted them to come out after thirty years or so, not when Dan Ellsberg chose to leak them.

The first page of the first volume, which concerns the period we’re looking at in this show struck me particularly, because the guys writing it were using some of the very same sources that I am.

The thing I don’t like here is that, well, they dump all over Fall, but the argument that they eventually make is the same one that Fall makes both in Last Reflections and, in part, in The Two Viet Nams. Either way,  in my mind, pretty cool.

And last but never, ever least:

Bayart, Jean-Francois. “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion.” African Affairs, 2000, 217-267.

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York; Viking Press, 2002.

Fall, Bernard. Hell in a Very Small Place. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1966.

Fall, Bernard. Last Reflections on a War. New York: Schocken Books, 1972.

Fall, Bernard. Street without Joy: Indochina at War, 1946-54. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1961.

Fall, Bernard. The Two Viet Nams: A Political and Military Analysis. New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1963.

Fehrenbach, T. R. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. New York: Macmillan, 1963.

Fitzgerald, Frances. Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1972.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar American National Security Policy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Halberstam, David. The Best and the Brightest. New York: Random House, 1972.

Halberstam, David. The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War. New York: Hyperion, 2007.

Herr, Michael. Dispatches. New York: Knopf, 1977.

Hickey, Gerald Cannon. A Village in Vietnam. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1964.

Huntington, Samuel. “The Bases of Accommodation.” Foreign Affairs, 1968.

Karnow, Stanley. Vietnam: A History. New York: Penguin Books, 1997.

Lacouture, Jean. Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography. New York: Random House, 1968.

Lacouture, Jean. Vietnam: Between Two Truces. New York: Random House, 1966.

Logevall, Frederick. Embers of WarThe Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam. New York: Random House, 2012.

Maclear, Michael. The Ten Thousand Day War: Vietnam, 1945-1975. New York: Avon Books, 1982.

Mus, Paul and McAlister, John T. The Vietnamese and Their Revolution. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Moore, Harold G., and Galloway, Joseph L. We Were Soldiers Once…and Young. New York: Random House, 1992.

Niehbuhr, Rienhold. The Irony of American History. Chicago: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1952.

Sheehan, Neil. A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage, 1988.

Audio Credits:

America Prepares for World War 2 | America’s Call to Arms | WW2 Newsreel | 1941. The Best Film Archives. YouTube.

D-Day Normandy Invasion: “Gateway to Victory” 1944 United News Newsreel. Jeff Quitney. YouTube.

Flying Tiger Newsreels. Bomberguy. YouTube.

France Surrenders / Terms of Surrender (World War II).  FasttrackHistory. YouTube.

Frances Wall Of Steel Aka France’s Wall Of Steel – Maginot Line (1938).  British Pathé. YouTube.

German Propaganda Films (1941). British Pathé. YouTube.


Original Pearl Harbor News Footage. The Atlantic. YouTube.


Radio reports on the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (April 12, 1945). TheDaveMaybe. YouTube.

Review Of The Year (1938). British Pathé. YouTube.

US Celebrates Japanese Surrender (1945). British Pathé. YouTube.

World Faces Crisis As Japan And China Clash In Far East (1930-1939). British Pathé. YouTube.

World News In Review (1945). British Pathé. YouTube.

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