Welcome to the Vietnam War Primary Source Guide. The purpose of this guide is to provide you the researcher with both print and links to online primary sources covering various subject areas pertaining to the Vietnam War. This guide is a live guide, and always growing as new links or subject areas are added. Good Luck in your research endeavors.
The Vietnam War (also known by other names) was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States and other anti-communist allies. The war is widely considered to be a Cold War-era proxy war. It lasted almost 20 years, with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973. The conflict also spilled over into neighboring states, exacerbating the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, which ended with all three countries becoming communist states by 1975.
The conflict emerged from the First Indochina War between the French colonial government and a left-wing revolutionary movement, the Viet Minh.[After the French military withdrawal from Indochina in 1954, the U.S. assumed financial and military support for the South Vietnamese state. The Viet Cong (VC), a South Vietnamese common front under the direction of North Vietnam, initiated a guerrilla war in the south. North Vietnam had also invaded Laos in 1958 in support of insurgents, establishing the Ho Chi Minh Trail to supply and reinforce the Viet Cong. By 1963, the North Vietnamese had sent 40,000 soldiers to fight in the south. U.S. involvement escalated under President John F. Kennedy, from just under a thousand military advisors in 1959 to 23,000 in 1964.
The war exacted an enormous human cost: estimates of the number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed range from 966,000 to 3 million. Some 275,000–310,000 Cambodians, 20,000–62,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict, and a further 1,626 remain missing in action.
Following the end of the war, the Sino-Soviet split re-emerged and the Third Indochina War began. The end of the Vietnam War would precipitate the Vietnamese boat people and the larger Indochina refugee crisis, which saw millions of refugees leave Indochina, an estimated 250,000 of whom perished at sea. The conflict between unified Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge began almost immediately with a series of border raids, eventually escalating into the Cambodian–Vietnamese War. Chinese forces directly invaded Vietnam in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, with subsequent border conflicts lasting until 1991. Communist Vietnam fought insurgencies in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Within the U.S., the war gave rise to what was referred to as Vietnam Syndrome, a public aversion to American overseas military involvements, which together with the Watergate scandal contributed to the crisis of confidence that affected America throughout the 1970s. Wikipedia
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