Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press (Rowman & Littlefield), 2001. l [that is roman numeral 50], 493 pp. ISBN 0810841835.
A revised and updated edition, The A to Z of the Vietnam War, was published in 2005.
Editor's Foreword, by Jon Woronoff (vii-viii)
Chronology: The Chronology begins with the Geneva Accords of 1954, and runs to 2001, but coverage of the years 1954-1958 and 1976-2001 is brief. Twenty-one pages are devoted to the years 1959-1975.
Introduction: Comments on the war, with particular reference to issues that are in dispute.
The Dictionary: The 622 articles in the main body of the dictionary (see list below)
provide strong coverage of military and paramilitary forces, military
operations, weapons and technology, major and minor ethnic groups, the politics of the war,
and its diplomatic environment. The greatest focus is on
Vietnam and the United States, but there is also significant coverage of Laos
and Cambodia, and of the other countries that were in various ways involved in
The main thing I chose not to cover at length was order of battle. Several existing historical dictionaries and encyclopedias provide orders of battle--lists of military units, at least down to division level, with the names of their commanding officers--of ARVN, PAVN, and sometimes other forces. I could have spent a great deal of time compiling orders of battle no better than those in the existing works. I thought my efforts would be better devoted to matters I could cover significantly better than the existing works did.
Name Index: I felt this index was important partly because it allows the reader to look up people who are mentioned in the dictionary but not given a separate entry. Perhaps more important, it allows readers who have seen a name in abbreviated form to look up the individual. The entry in the dictionary for Nguyen Khanh (the ARVN general who became Premier of the Republic of Vietnam early in 1964) is alphabetized under his family name Nguyen; this follows the best practice for dealing with Vietnamese names. But he is often referred to as General Khanh or Premier Khanh. A reader who has seen such a reference can find him in the index under Khanh, and from this can learn that his full name is Nguyen Khanh.
Operations Index: Many named operations and projects that were not important enough to be given a separate entry are mentioned at various points in the dictionary. The operations index allows the reader to locate these references.
Errata: A historical dictionary of this sort is
usually written by dozens of authors, sometimes rather carelessly chosen. I have written
this one entirely by myself. I believe that having a single
author has allowed this volume to have more coherence than competing works, and
also I am confident that it is more accurate. But while I am sure that my dictionary contains fewer errors than the
competing works, it has to contain some; it covers far too wide a range of
material for me to have gotten everything right, especially in the technical specification
of weapons systems that often existed in many variants. I would be grateful if readers
who spot some of the errors would
point them out to me. My e-mail address is:
Errors found so far include:
Caption, photograph 3, on an unnumbered page after the maps: ".30-caliber" should be "7.62-mm".
Page 42, line 22: "57 artillery battalions" should be "62 artillery battalions".
Page 46, line 12: HMAS Hobart was a guided missile destroyer, not a cruiser.
Page 119, lines 12-13: "an armored battalion" should be "about a battalion of armor or armored cavalry".
Page 184, line 36, states that Huynh Tan Phat was president of the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) from 1959 to 1976. This was a typo. The PRG was not created until 1969; Phat was president from 1969 to 1976.
p. 230: Le Duan "does not seem to have taken conspicuously extreme positions on war policy from the mid-1960s onward." This was serious inaccurate. See Lien-Hang T. Nguyen, Hanoi's War (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), chapter three, for Le Duan's very aggressive advocacy of "General Offensive and General Uprising" in 1967-68.
p. 299, line 2: "one .30-caliber and four .50-caliber machine guns" should be "one .30-caliber machine gun and four .50-caliber spotting rifles."
p. 340, line 11: "March" should be "April". U.S. troops landed at what was to become Fire Support Base Ripcord on March 13, 1970, which was what gave me the mistaken impression the fire support base had been established at that time, but for the next few weeks they were there only briefly and intermittently. Continuous occupation began on April 11, and the artillery finally arrived April 16.
Page 423: I wrote here that the M61 Vulcan cannon fired 2,500 rounds per minute. I got this from the description of the Vulcans used on fixed-wing gunships, in Lt. Col. Jack S. Ballard, Development and Employment of Fixed-Wing Gunships, 1962-1972 (Washington: Office of Air Force History, 1982), pp. 84, 262-63. This was not exactly an error; the original M61 Vulcan did fire 2,500 rounds per minute. But I should also have mentioned the M61A1 Vulcan, which fired 6,000 rounds per minute on its fast setting, and perhaps also the M168, which fired 3,000 rounds per minute on its fast setting.
c.v. for Edwin E. Moise
Revised April 11, 2021.
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