Guide The Tet Offensive: A Brief History with Documents

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Table of contents for The Tet Offensive : a brief history with documents / William Thomas Allison.

Military forces from the U. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded on both sides. The Tet Offensive became a turning point in the war, as the American people realized the war was far from over and withdrew their support. The Tet Offensive has been considered by many historians to be a U.

Many declassified primary source documents and declassified or unclassified histories making use of primary sources have not been available until this century, decades after Tet. They make clear that U.

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The intelligence reached military commanders on the ground in Vietnam, but was less clear to Washington-based intelligence analysts and military and political decision-makers. More detailed intelligence might have resulted in a greater victory on the ground, but probably would not have prevented Tet from being the strategic political defeat that it was.

The Tet Offensive, like almost all events in U.

THE TET OFFENSIVE: A Concise History

To properly and fully understand intelligence supplied to political leaders and military commanders—including how, when and why leaders made decisions—students, authors of popular history, and professors alike must turn to declassified primary source intelligence records. The history of political and military decisions in 20th and 21st century events is incomplete without examining intelligence input to the policymaking process.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, intelligence agencies are reviewing their holdings to identify Tet-related documents for declassification and release. This is part of a broader IC effort to enhance public understanding of IC activities. The declassified documents will be released over a period of 15 months, in three installments, beginning in July Secondary school textbooks, whether written for students at the most introductory level or designed for AP students, argue that the Tet Offensive was the turning point of the war.

The textbooks also argue that the war after Tet was characterized by little more than a tapering off of American involvement.

1968: The Tet Offensive

In framing the Tet Offensive in this way, however, the texts ignore key changes in military and political prosecution of the war, critically important facts and significant ideas related to the war. Such omissions distort the story of Vietnam in such a way as to make it difficult for students to understand the relationship of the Vietnam experience to the history of American involvement in the rest of the world, both before the Vietnam War and in events since. The Tet Offensive was indeed significant in the story of Vietnam. Footage of the U.

TET: Who Won?

Textbooks typically discuss the argument currently accepted by most historians that Tet represented a military defeat for the Viet Cong. Yet the textbooks also lead the reader to the conclusion that Tet led the U. None of the secondary school textbooks discuss the Vietnam War itself during the remaining 10 months of , and few discuss the war at all in or early All begin with a new chapter after the U.


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In the overall narrative of Vietnam, the U. Richard Nixon becomes merely the caretaker of this attenuated effort, and it thus appears to the reader as if nothing much happened in Vietnam after Tet. Not only is such a narrative overly simplistic, it ignores critically important events, ideas, and historical changes that need to be taught as central aspects of the Vietnam War.

Table of contents for The Tet Offensive

After Tet, American soldiers still fought in Vietnam for a full five years. This is longer than the duration of any other war in U.


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  • Just under half the deaths suffered by U. Interestingly, one textbook, The Americans McDougall includes a chart that shows that more ordnance was dropped on the enemy by U. And if everything after Tet was merely the conclusion of U.