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Everyman in Vietnam

A Soldier's Journey into the Quagmire

Michael Adas and Joseph J. Gilch

Publication Date - 15 June 2017

ISBN: 9780190455873

288 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Provides a gripping and multi-dimensional way to understand the nature and enduring significance of the Vietnam conflict based on an exceptional collection of letters written by an American soldier during his tour of duty


Based on an exceptional collection of letters written by an American soldier during his tour of duty, Everyman in Vietnam: A Soldier's Journey into the Quagmire provides a gripping and multi-dimensional way to understand the nature and enduring significance of the Vietnam conflict. The book's vivid, intimate, and accessible account of Jimmy Gilch, an ordinary American soldier in Vietnam, offers a unique glimpse into the complexities and contradictions of the American intervention there. The movement back and forth between the larger history of the war and the experiences of Gilch fighting in a very particular place at a particular time gives readers a sense of the concrete nature of the war in Vietnam that is often absent in more general treatments. Offering an instructive example of the craft of history in action, Everyman in Vietnam explores the history of the multinational and global processes that led to the U.S. interventions, the political calculations on opposing sides that shaped successive decisions for military escalation, and Vietnamese perspectives on the conflict.

About the Author(s)

Michael Adas is the Abraham E. Voorhees Professor Emeritus and Board of Governors' Chair at Rutgers University. Adas was awarded the Toynbee Prize for his contributions to global history in 2013. His writings have been translated into seven languages.

Joseph J. Gilch is currently working to complete his graduate degree in Global and Comparative History at Rutgers University.


"Everyman in Vietnam is the most intimate account of the Vietnam War available today. Written with great artistry and power, the author's story of Jimmy Gilch and his family's encounter with one of America's most vicious wars casts a powerful light not just on the conflict but on the entire social fabric of the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a perfect vehicle for teaching the current generation--so fully protected from the experience of war--what Vietnam was all about."--Marilyn Young, New York University

"In this compelling and moving book, two master historians help us understand the real tragedy of the American war in Vietnam as they bring to life the service of Private Jimmy Gilch against the sweep of American, Vietnamese, and global histories of the mid-twentieth century."--Mark Bradley, The University of Chicago

Table of Contents

    List of Maps
    Acronyms and Key Terms
    About the Authors

    Prologue: In the Ho Bo Woods: June 28, 1966


    Chapter One: Divergent Trajectories: America and Vietnam after World War II
    The Promise of Prosperity
    Struggle to Liberate a Shattered Land
    Early U.S. Interventions in Indochina
    Exemplar of Modernity

    Chapter Two: Cold War Convergences
    Flawed Settlement and a Nation Divided
    Coming of Age in Cold War America
    The Invention of South Vietnam
    The Mounting Costs of Containment
    Rebel Without A Cause

    Chapter Three: The Making of a Quagmire
    Draft Decisions
    Lyndon Johnson's Dilemmas
    Basic Training: Fort Dix, New Jersey, September 1965
    Renewing the War for Independence
    Off to War, January 1966

    Chapter Four: Into the Quagmire
    Angst and Escalation
    Contested Ground
    Arrival in Nam, February 1966
    Terms of Engagement
    In Pursuit of an Elusive Enemy, Late February 1966

    Chapter Five: In Dubious Battle
    The Lessons of Ia Drang
    The Good Soldier, March 1966
    Rethinking the Path to Liberation
    Ambivalence and Disillusionment, March1966
    McNamara's Predicament
    Finding His Own Mission, March - April 1966

    Chapter Six: The Price of Attrition
    Surviving the Stalemate, April, 1966
    An Unwinnable War
    Losing Hope, Mid-April - Early May
    Confounding the Colossus
    Waiting for Leave, June - July 1966

    Chapter Seven: Return to Filhol, Late July, 1966


    Sample Letters
    Selected Sources Consulted