Voluminous, penetrating and cautionary ... In Embers of War, Logevall has conceived a prequel to his past work, examining two powerful, interdependent historical dramas ... A product of formidable international research. It is lucidly and comprehensively composed. And it leverages a consistently potent analytical perspective ... Logevall’s outstanding account concludes with Vietnam’s fate inextricably linked to the projection of American power in the periphery of Southeast Asia.
[Logevall] has written an even more impressive book about the French conflict in Vietnam and the beginning of the American one ... It is the most comprehensive history of that time ... He has produced a powerful portrait of the terrible and futile French war from which Americans learned little as they moved toward their own engagement in Vietnam ... Logevall is not only skilled at describing the war. He is also adept at explaining the diplomacy of Vietnam during the 1950s.
The eight-hundred-plus pages of [Logevall's] Embers of War provide the most comprehensive account available of the French Vietnamese war, America’s involvement, and the beginning of the US-directed struggle ... Older readers will read this book with admiration for Logevall’s copious sources in English, French, and Vietnamese (in translation) and agree with his analysis ... This is not to assert that Logevall obscures or misses the main points; on the contrary, he makes them well but sometimes at too great a length. Somewhat fuller footnotes and a more compact text would have tightened his narrative ... His two books, especially Embers of War, tell the deeply immoral story of the Vietnam wars convincingly and more fully than any others ... A considerable achievement.
Embers of War is simply an essential work for those seeking to understand the worst foreign-policy adventure in American history. Logevall has tapped new resources, including extensive archives in France and what is available in Vietnam. He has a complete grasp of the vast literature on what the Vietnamese call The American War, and even though readers know how the story ends – as with 'The Iliad' – they will be as riveted by the tale as if they were hearing it for the first time ... The only misstep in this fantastic book is Logevall’s description of the writer Graham Greene’s time in Southeast Asia ... Such a mistake aside, Logevall makes good on his attempt to write the 'full-fledged international account of how the whole saga began...'
An intricate study of how the Vietnam War came to be. To a remarkable degree it is a book starring its sources ... Logevall, with a storyteller’s voice, takes us step by fatal step from the end of World War II through the ravages of the Vietnam War ... Perhaps it is not needed, but there is little in Embers of War on the increasing opposition to the war on the American home front.
A monumental history of the 2½ decades leading up to America's direct troop intervention in 1965 ... This book is a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam and is certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date ... For all the factual density of his narrative, Mr. Logevall should have questioned more acutely what has become, in some quarters, the conventional view of Ho ... Mr. Logevall skillfully describes the rise of the Vietminh resistance and the French's attempts to defeat it militarily while denying the non-communist Vietnamese real independence ... What [he] fails to consider is whether American intervention at various points might have taken a less clumsy form, one more attuned to South Vietnamese aspirations and realities.
[Logevall's] latest work masterfully presents the war’s roots in the U.S. reaction to the French colonial experience ... Logevall makes a detailed case that America’s Vietnam involvement replicated the French experience.