Main Selection of Military Book ClubArmy Historical Society Book of Distinction finalist
With the knowledge born of firsthand experience, James H. Willbanks tells the story of the 60-day siege of An Loc. In 1972, late in the Vietnam War, a small group of South Vietnamese held off three North Vietnamese divisions and helped prevent a direct attack on Saigon. The battle can be considered one of the major events during the gradual American exit from Vietnam. An advisor to the South Vietnamese during the battle, Willbanks places the battle in the context of the shifting role of the American forces and a policy decision to shift more of the burden of fighting the war onto the Vietnamese troops. He presents an overview of the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive, a plan to press forward the attack on U.S. and ARVN positions throughout the country, including Binh Long province and Saigon. The North Vietnamese hoped to strike a decisive blow at a time when most American troops were being withdrawn. The heart of Willbanks’s account concentrates on the fighting in Binh Long province, Saigon, and the siege of An Loc. It concludes with a discussion of the Paris peace talks, the significance of the fighting at An Loc, and the eventual fall of South Vietnam.