Hanoi and the American War: Two International Histories

Geoffrey C. Stewart, Western University

Pierre Asselin, Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013. 319 pp. $55 (cloth).

Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, Hanoi’s War: An International History of the War for Peace in Vietnam. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012. 444 pp. $34.95 (cloth).

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On November 22, 1963, an emergency session of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers’ Party (VWP) opened in Hanoi. The session, known as the Ninth Plenum, was held, in part, to determine the best route forward for the party following the coup that had toppled Ngo Dinh Diem’s South Vietnamese government three weeks before. Over the ensuing weeks, the committee members addressed domestic and international concerns of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), particularly the evolving political situation in the South and the status of the world revolutionary struggle. At the heart of the matter were divisions within the party over the best means to achieve the reunification of Vietnam and the ramifications that the widening Sino-Soviet split might have on this goal. From what can be gleaned from the spotty historical record, the debates were quite contentious...