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Conflict in Indochina 1954–1979

Resources

Geoff Lewis
Kelso High School

 

Annotated bibliography

I have mainly selected books that I have read and found valuable, that have been published in recent times and are therefore more up-to-date. Others are interesting in that they present a "human" face to the conflict.

Bao Ninh, The Sorrow of War. Minerva, 1994.
This tragic novel presents the war from the North Vietnamese side. A must read!

Bowden, Tim, One Crowded Hour: Neil Davis Combat Cameraman 1934–85. Collins, 1987.
This superb biography of Neil Davis brings alive the man and the conflict in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Chandler, David, Brother Number One: A Biography of Pol Pot. Westview Press, 1992.

Chandler, David, A History of Cambodia. Westview Press, 1992.

Chandler, David, The Tragedy of Cambodian History. Yale University Press, 1991.
Chandler is the Western historian on Cambodia. Any of his work is highly reliable and to be commended.

Chandra, Nayan, Brother Enemy: The War after the War. Collier, 1989.
This book examines relations between the nations of Indochina from 1975 to 1985.

Edelmann, Daniel, Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. Norton, 1985.
This is a moving collection of letters written by US troops in Vietnam.

Harper, James, War without End: Conflict in Indochina. Longman, 1996.
This is the best basic textbook available at present. The course is well covered in a readable style. For students wanting greater depth it should be read in conjunction with other references in this list.

Karnow, Stanley, Vietnam: A History. Penguin, 1984.
Karnow is probably the most authorative and relatively unbiased writer on the US involvement in the Vietnam War.

Kiernan, Ben, How Pol Pot Came to Power. Verso, 1985.
Anything written by Kiernan on Cambodia is useful and reliable.

Koch, Christopher, A Highway to War. Minerva, 1996.
This brilliant novel is based loosely on the life of Neil Davis in Vietnam and Cambodia during the wars.

Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit [separate editions on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos]. Lonely Planet, [various dates].
These books, written for travellers in Indochina, all contain a section called "Facts about the Country" which includes good information and synopses on the geography, people and history which are relevant to HSC classes. The style is most readable.

Lunn, Hugh, Vietnam: A Reporter's War. University of Queensland Press, 1986.
This valuable book is a good supplement to Bowden, as it presents the Vietnam War and Australia's involvement through the eyes of a perceptive journalist.

McAuley, Lex, The Battle of Long Tan. Arrow, 1987.
McAuley is a well known military historian who has written in depth and with authority on his subjects. This is no exception for its interest and accuracy.

MacDonald, Peter, Giap: The Victor in Vietnam. Warner Books, 1993.
An interesting and readable biography of Vo Nguyen Giap, arguably one of the great military leaders of this century, this book presents a positive picture of Giap. It is most useful for its quotations by or about the general and for material from interviews with him.

McHugh, S., Minefields and Miniskirts. Doubleday, 1993.
This book examines the role played by Australian civilians who went to Vietnam as nurses, entertainers and the like. It is an interesting read.

MacLear, Michael, Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War. Methuen, 1981.
The book, based on the outstanding television series of the same name, is brilliantly illustrated and well worth consulting.

Ngor Haing S., Surviving the Killing Fields: The Cambodian Odyssey of Ngor Haing. Pan, 1983.
The title says it all. After viewing the film The Killing Fields read the words of Ngor Haing who was killed in Los Angeles in 1996.

Nguyen Khac Vien, Vietnam: A Long History. Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1987.
Unfortunately, this book, published in Hanoi, is not easily available in Australia. It is essentially propaganda, but it gives the Vietnamese viewpoint that is not often found in Western books.

Pilger, John, Heroes. Jonathon Cape, 1986.
Not as interesting or as controversial as his television documentaries, this is nonetheless a readable book on Cambodia.

Rowe, J., Vietnam: The Australian Experience. Time Life, 1988.
This is one of a series on Australian military history released in the Bicentennial year. An excellent account of Australia's involvement and commitment to the Indochina conflict, it is worth owning.

Sutherland, Ian, Conflict in Indochina. 2nd ed. Nelson, 1996.
This is a good basic textbook, covering the whole of Indochina. Like Harper, Sutherland has written especially for the HSC course, and Harper or Sutherland should be the basis of HSC study.

Watt, Alan, Vietnam: An Australian Analysis. Cheshire, 1968.
Watt is a former Australian diplomat whose perspective is from the Department of Foreign Affairs. Nevertheless, he provides a reasonably objective account and a good background on the war in Vietnam.

Wintle, Adrian, The Viet Nam Wars. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1991.
This is a reasonably objective account of the military aspects of the First and Second Indochina Wars. The emphasis is on facts rather than indepth analysis.

Wood, John, Vietnam and the Indochina Conflict. Macmillan Education, 1990.

Other information and discussion on "Conflict in Indochina" can be found in Teaching History, the journal of the New South Wales History Teachers' Association, and in other periodicals such as The Far Eastern Economic Review, New Internationalist and in quality newspapers: for example, 1997 issues of The Sydney Morning Herald's "Good Weekend Magazine" have had excellent articles on Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Films on the conflict in Indochina

The following is a select list of feature films on Indochina that are useful from an historian's point of view:

Born on the Fourth of July

Full Metal Jacket [NB violent]

Good Morning Vietnam

Heaven and Earth

Indochine [Colonial Vietnam]

Platoon

Sword of Honour [mini-series]

The Killing Fields [Cambodia]

The Odd Angry Shot

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