BLACK APRIL: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973–1975

Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973–1975, addresses the events that created one of the most important events of our history, one that still rests in the memory of thousands of veterans of that war. Author George Veith has a well-earned reputation for writing books containing deeply researched information that clearly certifies that all his facts are accurate and can withstand any challenge. His focus has been on the Vietnam conflict, and his reputation is solid as it pertains to “the facts.” Veith’s first two books are about Vietnam, and each is of such sound credibility that he has testified on POW/MIA issues before Congress, and addresses numerous conferences on the topic. He is extremely credible primarily because he is clinical in ensuring that his books are thoroughly and precisely researched.

Veith’s credibility is pivotal to this review, in that it focuses on one of history’s major governmental lapses and addresses in great detail the decisions, processes, procedures—and the names—pertaining to the vast number of events that caused the collapse of South Vietnam—in 55 days! It isn’t pretty.

Without exception, the Vietnam “conflict” culminated as the most decisive and highly debated conflict in modern times. Approximately 900,000 living veterans of the Vietnam War routinely reflect on the dubious manner in which they returned to the United States, and in spite of the derision, maintained the ideal that they strongly and proudly, even if not willingly, fought for; then, to watch the country for which they fought, and for which their friends died, collapse in a short time was contemptible. This book will be of significant interest to that population.

Veith has documented in great detail the history of the fall of South Vietnam and pulls no punches in documenting the facts and expressing his opinion. In fact, in the opening line of the book’s cover comments, he addresses this event as the “worst foreign policy disaster of the twentieth century.” That opinion is clearly documented in the book with detailed background to confirm historical accuracy.

The author comments that, shortly after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, the government of North Vietnam quickly and secretly moved to break them, intentionally misinforming Secretary Kissinger of their intent. The issues were politically and publicly turbulent, and Veith documents each with precision. As evidence of the depth of research, there are 56 pages of author’s notes, 45 pages of research sources, and a huge index, all supporting a text of 499 pages.

The internal turmoil that prevailed in the government of South Vietnam, as well as the senior hierarchy of the military forces, is disparaging. While the Vietnam soldiers and Marines fought aggressively and with valor, the leadership of the country surrendered and departed the country.

For the readers who participated in the Vietnam conflict, the history captured in Black April is educational and informative, as well as dismal and disparaging. For those participating in the current conflicts, this history could be a predecessor to what may occur in theater. This is an exceptional record of the history “after our war,” and is sobering for all.

BLACK APRIL: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973–1975
By George J. Veith. Encounter Books, Jackson, TN, 2012
ISBN 1594035725, 587 pp.
$29.95 (Member $26.95)

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The Sad End to a War