Fire in the Lake – Frances FitzGerald (1972)

Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (1972) is a book by American journalist Frances FitzGerald (1940-) about Vietnam, its history and national character, and the United States warfare there. … The book was ranked by critics as one of the top books of the year, it was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 10 weeks, and it won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction, the Bancroft Prize for history, and the National Book Award. … This was the first major book by an American on Vietnam, its history, and the United States activities there. FitzGerald said it was a ‘first draft of history.’ She explored thousands of years of the history and culture of Vietnam, showing how these affected the relations of its peoples with the relatively brief encounter with the United States. She says that the US understood little about the country and its leaders, reacting to the threat of communism rather than recognizing the nation’s long struggle to gain and keep its independence from foreign invaders. She argued that American values of freedom, democracy, optimism, and technological progress were inconsistent with Vietnam’s values, culture, agrarian economy, and long history of warfare with France and China, making the Vietnam War effort doomed from the start. The Vietnamese sense of government, history, politics, and war is completely different from the American one. They have had a cultural tradition of ancestor worship and a different belief in what constitutes effective government (the Mandate of Heaven). The US government’s failure to acknowledge these differences led to its failure in waging war there against the North Vietnamese and insurgents. …”
[PDF] NY Times – Fire in the Lake. By STANLEY HOFFMANN
The Nation: The Reporter Who Warned Us Not to Invade Vietnam 10 Years Before the Gulf of Tonkin (April 2015)
New Yorker: VIETNAM I-FIRE IN THE LAKE By Frances FitzGerald (1972)

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