Vietnam War Almanac by James H. Willbanks

The latest edition of James H. Willbanks’s Vietnam War Almanac (Skyhorse Publishing, 590 pp., $17.95, paper) has just been published. The guts of this book, which was first published in 2009 (and is not to be confused with Col. Harry Summers’s The Vietnam War Almanac), is 465-page detailed chronology of events in Indochina beginning in 2879 B.C. with the founding of the Kingdom of Van Lang, and ending on November 17, 2000, with President Bill Clinton visiting Vietnam.

The guts of the chronology is a virtually day-by-day rundown of events that took place in Vietnam (mainly dealing with the American war) from 1960 to the end of 1973. Willbanks, who directs the Military History Department at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, is eminently qualified to put together this book. A retired Army lieutenant colonel who served a tour of duty as an adviser with a South Vietnamese regiment during the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive, he has edited or written a dozen books, including The Battle of An Loc (2005), and The Tet Offensive: A Concise History (2008).

In the Almanac, Willbanks divides the chronological entries into several categories. The most commonly used are: USA-Military, Ground War, Air War, Sea War, USA-Government, USA-Domestic, Diplomacy, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam. Other categories include China, USSR, Terrorism, POWs, Negotiations, Cambodia, and Refugees.

James H. Willbanks

Willbanks also includes a section called “Key Individuals in Southeast Asia,” which is made up of dozens of short biographies, primarily of important American and Vietnamese military men, diplomats, politicians, Cabinet secretaries, and other government officials. The Appendices include statistics on U.S. military personnel in Vietnam and casualties, and a list of Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients.

That’s a lot on good info packed into one volume, which should be on your book shelf if you want to know just about anything of import that took place in Vietnam during the American war.

—Marc Leepson