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The Vietnam War’s influence on politics, foreign policy, and subsequent military campaigns is the center of much debate and analysis. But the impact on veterans across the globe, as well as the war’s effects on individual lives and communities, is a largely neglected issue. As a consequence of cultural and legal barriers, the oral histories of the Vietnam War currently available in English are predictably one-sided, providing limited insight into the inner workings of the Communist nations that participated in the war. Furthermore, many of these accounts focus on combat experiences rather than the backgrounds, belief systems, and social experiences of interviewees, resulting in an incomplete historiography of the war.
Chinese native Xiaobing Li corrects this oversight in Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans. Li spent seven years gathering hundreds of personal accounts from survivors of the war, accounts that span continents, nationalities, and political affiliations. The twenty-two intimate stories in the book feature the experiences of American, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and North and South Vietnamese veterans, representing the views of both anti-Communist and Communist participants, including Chinese officers of the PLA, a Russian missile-training instructor, and a KGB spy. These narratives humanize and contextualize the war’s events while shedding light on aspects of the war previously unknown to Western scholars. Providing fresh perspectives on a long-discussed topic, Voices from the Vietnam War offers a thorough and unique understanding of America’s longest war.
Xiaobing Li, professor and chair of the Department of History and Geography and director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, is the author of China at War, Civil Liberties in China, A History of the Modern Chinese Army, and coauthor of Voices from the Korean War and Mao’s General Remember Korea. He served in the People’s Liberation Army in China.
"Li successfully finds a fresh and intriguing niche for his collection of twenty-two individual Vietnam War stories. This should make a first-rate supplementary text."--Robert J. McMahon, author of The Limits of Empire: The United States and Southeast Asia since World War II
"This volume of interviews with Vietnam War veterans adds new and surprising dimensions to our understanding of the scope of the war.... Some of this book is heartrending; some of it is as gripping as a thriller; and all of it will add to our understanding of the war."--Booklist
"It is the first oral history of the war—and there has been a large shelf full of them in the genre—to include the first-person voices of Chinese and Russian veterans among those from this country and Vietnam. Another criterion of a good oral history is that it unveils the human side of war. That is done well in this book, as the veterans from all nationalities talk about their wartime jobs as well as their personal lives before, during and after their service in Vietnam."--HistoryNet
"Li’s book offers, for the first time in English, the direct testimony of Russian and Chinese veterans of the Vietnam War, including a former KGB spy."--VVA Veteran
"It is fascinating to hear about the war from such different viewpoints, and the author does an exceptional job in balancing his presentation and allowing the facts to speak for themselves."--WTBF Radio
"A valuable oral history."--Journal of America's Mility Past
"An essential book for anyone writing non-revisionist history of our most propagandized war."--Cybertronian Reviews
Voices from the Vietnam War is an excellent addition to the historiography and an important work that helps internationalize and personalize the war in Vietnam. -- H-Net Reviews -- Martin Clemis -- H-Net Reviews
[. . .] Overall, Li’s interviews add new dimensions to our understanding of the impact and scope of the war, and his book is a valuable contribution to the Vietnam War historiography. [. . .] Li’s book is a good read and a suitable assignment for courses on the Vietnam War. -- Journal of Cold War Studies
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Vietnam War, Veterans, Personal narratives
Li, Xiaobing, "Voices from the Vietnam War: Stories from American, Asian, and Russian Veterans" (2010). Military History. 39.