The Encyclopedia of The Vietnam War edited by Spencer C. Tucker | Books in Review

I have had the first edition of the massive, three-volume The Encyclopedia of The Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History on my shelf since it was published in 1998. It has proven to be an accurate, unbiased, excellent reference book on hundreds of aspects of the Vietnam War. The good news is that the book’s publisher, ABC-CLIO, has just released a four-volume second edition (an abridged one-volume book was published in 2002) once again edited by Spencer Tucker. It retails for $395.

Tucker is a VMI grad and Fulbright scholar who served as a U.S. Army captain in the Pentagon during the Vietnam War, and then taught for 36 years at TCU and his alma mater. Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr., is the Encyclopedia’s associate editor. Merle L. Pribbenow II, James H. Willbanks, and David T. Zabecki (the retired Army Major General who edited Vietnam magazine) are the assistant editors.

The first three volumes contain nearly a thousand thorough entries by scores of contributors (including the editors). Most are university historians who specialize in the Vietnam War. The subjects include military ops, weapons, biographies of significant players (Americans, Vietnamese, and French), the antiwar movement, early Vietnamese history, the French war, post-1975 events in Vietnam, and Vietnam War-related literature and film.

The new fourth volume contains more than 1, 550 pages of notated documents. They range from entry number one, “Ho Chi Minh: Speech at the Tours Congress, December 1920, ” to number 225, “President Bill Clinton: Announcement of Normalization of Diplomatic Relations withVietnam, July 11, 1995.”  The volume’s appendices include an inclusive Order of Battle, a chronology, glossary, and selected bibliography.

The entry for Vietnam Veterans of America, which is found between “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” and “Vietnam War Frauds, Fakes and Wannabes, ” written by Pierpaoli, is taken primarily from VVA’s official history.

—Marc Leepson


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