Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

One Response to “Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna”

  1. “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam” (an exaggerated title) by Thomas P. McKenna is a great book full of details in order of battle, troop movements, days and times of the events, etc…(it’s useful and convenient for military writers who can used it for references). However, I have a problem when the author, throughout the book mentioned of the “corruption” in some ARVN units and VNAF squadrons that I also HEARD about it during my service in ARVN. I think it is totally uncalled for to mention such things. Why? Because US lamestream media so far have been doing a much much better job in a large scale when vilifying ARVN. I guess the author did so just to prove that he KNEW…a lot during the war. I have some friends who were former VNAF pilots (A-1H Skyraider and Gunship) and fought to the last day of the war. If I show them those paragraphs of criticizing VNAF chopper pilots, I believe they would shoot in “rafale” tons of F words. :0)

    If you want to read a true Vietnam war story book that you can cry, I recommend the book “True Faith and Allegiance” by retired Colonel Mike Mc Dermott. Capt. Mike served as American military advisor with a Vietnamese paratrooper unit during the battle of An Loc (same time frame as Thomas). Since he actually fought side by side with ARVN paratroopers at a battalion unit, he was able to witness, suffer and endure all hardship just like every poor ARVN soldiers (a small note: ARVN soldiers serve until they die or seriously wounded and discharged). If his book was made into movie, it could be greater than “Saving Private Ryan” (a fiction). BTW, as far as I remember, the author of Kontum: The Battle to Save Soutn Vietnam was a good friend of John Paul Vann, top Military Advisor of 2nd Corps; no wonder I heard some familiar “cocky tone” in the book.

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