Dr. James T. Gillam is Professor of History at Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a doctorate in Chinese History from The Ohio State University and has served as editor of the journal, Southeastern Review of Asian Studies. Dr. Gillam has published numerous essays for scholarly journals, and has contributed expert commentary on two documentaries produced by The History Channel called “Passages,” concerning tunnel warfare in Vietnam and the tomb of the first Emperor of China.
2006 0-7734-5775-5 This book is a unique study of the Vietnam War that is best called a “memograph” because it combines both the skills and methods of the formal historical monograph with those of the memoirist. Through its monographic lens, this book sheds new light on many important aspects of the Vietnam War. Among those new views are the strategic and tactical changes in the war created by the Tet Offensive, and the unique use of the draft to create the “Vietnam Only Army.” Also, America’s willingness to use nuclear and chemical warfare in Vietnam are presented in the context of our current concern with weapons of mass destruction.
Through its memoir lens, the book shows the ways in which those kinds of issues and policies played out in the lives of the men who fought in Vietnam. Through the combination of these methods, the reader is taken through the training process for conscripts, to the false hope of avoiding Vietnam offered by the Vietnamization process and on to the various level of the war. Once the reader arrives in Vietnam, the memoir format, based on primary sources like “After Action Reports” and “Chronologies of Significant Events,” presents personal perspectives on how the war was fought. Thus, one travels from the air war to the ground war, and also to the war in the ground. This last view is also unique because it is the viewpoint of the rarely acknowledged men who fought in labyrinths beyond the ones covered in Thomas Manfold and John Pennycake’s treatment of tunnel warfare.