The Blood Road: The Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vietnam War

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Wiley, 1999 - Fiction - 432 pages
"Enormously illuminating. . . . John Prados can lead a reader, from the 'battle buff' to the expert, through the series of campaigns near the DMZ and along Route 9 better than any other author I have read. . . . His understanding of the decision-making process in Hanoi is nuanced and sophisticated

. . . . A first-rate book from a first-rate scholar."—Robert K. Brigham, Vassar College

"The Blood Road records all sides of the story, from the trials of Vietnamese soldiers in the wild, to the heroism of Americans trying to save their buddies against impossible odds, to the desperation of antiwar activists who feared that a conflict out of control spelled doom for a great nation, to the machinations of diplomats and generals scheming to get their way. This book is the tale of a fulcrum that turned the balance in the Vietnam War." —John Prados, from his Introduction

Could the United States have won the Vietnam war if it had been able to cut off the Viet Cong from their North Vietnamese support by severing the Ho Chi Minh Trail? Acclaimed historian John Prados tackles this crucial question in an elegant, unprecedented, and exciting work of historical scholarship.

Built as a vital gateway inside a divided nation, the Ho Chi Minh Trail embodied the dreams and aspirations of an entire people. As the North Vietnamese struggled to open and sustain The Trail, the American and South Vietnamese forces struggled to close it—a life-and-death contest that tells the intricate and dramatic story of the Vietnam War in microcosm.

The Blood Road recounts this complex story with unprecedented depth and clarity. The Ho Chi Minh Trail—whose flow of troops, civilians, and armaments became the lifeblood of a long campaign toward violent victory—was Hanoi's only connection by land to South Vietnam. Ultimately comprising more than twelve thousand miles of roads and paths through some of the world's harshest geography, The Trail and the epic struggle behind building and crossing it became the central experience for an entire generation. Graves filling 72 military cemeteries in Vietnam stand as silent, grisly testimony to the notorious road's devastating toll.

Aided by formerly secret government documents, and previously unavailable oral histories, memoirs, and interviews, Prados explores all sides of the conflict, providing details of the action in Hanoi and North Vietnam and avoiding the narrowly focused battle histories, atomized individual accounts, and overly general visions dominating previous histories. Prados considers each of the multiple perspectives that shaped the conflict: the struggle of the Vietnamese soldiers in the jungles, the heroism of American troops, the highly influential antiwar protests of the period, the intricate machinations of the generals and diplomats, and the lingering impact on the people and governments of neighboring Laos and Cambodia.

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THE BLOOD ROAD: The Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Vietnam War

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An intriguing analysis of the American war in Vietnam, as seen through the prism of the North Vietnamese supply line known as the Ho Chi Minh Trail. When historians examine the crucial military ... Read full review


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About the author (1999)

JOHN PRADOS, Ph.D., is the author of nine other books on military history, including Combined Fleet Decoded, Hidden History of the Vietnam War, Valley of Decision, Keeper of the Keys, and Presidents' Secret Wars. Dr. Prados lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

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