The early days - 1000 years of chinese domination- Liberation from china - China bites back - Le lo enters the scene - The coming of the europeans - Lording it over the people - Tay son rebrllion - The last of the nguyens - The french takeover - Independence aspiration - WWII breaks out - A false dawn - War with the french - A separate south vietnam - A new north vietnam - The north south war - Enter the cavalry - The turing point - Nixon his doctrine- Other foreign involvement - The fall of the south - Reunification of vietnam - Opening the door - Vietnam today


In January 1968 North Vietnamese troops launched a major attack at KheSanh in the Demilitarized Zone. This battle, the single largest of the war, was in part a massive diversion to draw attention away from the Tet Offensive. The Tet Offensive marked a decisive turning point in the war. On the evening of 31 January, as the country celebrated the Lunar New Year, the VC launched a series of strikes in more than 100 cities and towns, includ­ing Saigon. As the TV cameras rolled, a VC commando team took over the courtyard of the US embassy in central Saigon. US forces had long been itching to engage the VC in open battle and the Tet Offensive delivered. Although utterly surprised - a major failure of US military intelligence - the South Vietnamese and Americans immediately counterattacked with massive firepower, bombing and shelling heavily popu­lated cities as they had the open jungle. The counterattack devastated the VC, but also traumatized the civilian population. In Ben Tre, a US officer bitterly remarked that they 'had to destroy the town in order to save it '. The Tet Offensive killed about 1000 US soldiers and 2000 ARVN troops, but VC losses were more than 10 times higher, at around 32.000 deaths. In addition, some 500 American and 10,000 North Vietnamese troops had died at the battle of Khe Sanh the preceding week . The VC may have lost the battle , but this was the critical turning point on the road to winning the war. The military had long been boasting that victory was just a matter for time. Watching the killing and chaos in Saigon beamed into their living rooms, many Americans stopped believing the hype. While US generals were proclaiming a great victory, public tolerance of the war and its casualties reached breaking point. For the VC the Tet Offensive ultimately proved a success: it made the cost of fighting the war unbearable for the Americans. Simultaneously, stories began leaking out of Vietnam about atrocities and massacres carried out against unarmed Vietnamese civilians, including the infamous My Lai Massacre (for more information). This helped turn the tide and a coalition of the concerned emerged that threatened the establishment. Antiwar demonstrations rock ed American university cam­puses and spilled onto the streets.