11. America’s Final Battles

B-52s Depart Guam for Vietnam

Steve Randolph’s Powerful and Brutal Weapons (2007) finds Nixon’s use of military power and diplomacy vastly more effective than Johnson’s.

By defeating the 1972 offensive and sending B-52s against the North, Nixon was able coerce the North Vietnamese to sign a peace agreement–but the coercion was not effective enough to secure a lasting peace. The peace treaty obtained in 1973 has come under scrutiny as a flawed agreement that set up Saigon for certain defeat. Some historians regard the peace accord a sellout of Saigon because NVA units were allowed to remain in the south. Others argue there was no sellout of Saigon because Nixon earnestly promised military support. His pledge was subsequently rendered ineffective due to Watergate and Congressional actions to limit the war.


  • Herring, George C. America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975. New York: Wiley, 1979. Chapter 7 “A War For Peace: Nixon, Kissinger, and Vietnam ” (pp 221-256)
  • Maurer, Harry. Strange Ground: Americans in Vietnam, 1945-1975, an Oral History. 1st ed. New York: H. Holt, 1989. Dana Drenkowski “The Long Goodbye” (pp 542-551)
  • Schlight, John. A War Too Long: The USAF in Southeast Asia, 1961-1975. Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program, 1996. (pp 70-109)

Book Reviews

  • Randolph, Stephen P. Powerful and Brutal Weapons: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Easter Offensive. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2007
  • Marshall L. Michel III, The Eleven Days of Christmas: America’s Last Vietnam Battle. San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2002.

Additional Resources


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