Unwilling to Quit (Hardback)
The Long Unwinding of American Involvement in Vietnam
Although US involvement in the Vietnam conflict began long before 1965, Lyndon Johnson's substantial large commitment of combat troops that year marked the official beginning of America's longest twentieth-century war. By 1969, after years of intense fighting and thousands of casualties, an increasing number of Americans wanted the United States out of Vietnam. Richard Nixon looked for a way to pull out while preserving the dignity of the United States at home and abroad, and at the same time, to support the anticommunist Republic of Vietnam. Ultimately, he settled on the strategy of Vietnamization—the gradual replacement of US soldiers with South Vietnamese forces.
Drawing on newly declassified documents and international archives, Unwilling to Quit dissects the domestic and foreign contexts of America's withdrawal from the Vietnam War. David L. Prentice demonstrates how congressional and presidential politics were a critical factor in Nixon's decision to abandon his hawkish sensibilities in favor of de-escalation. Prentice reframes Nixon's choices, emphasizes Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird's outsized yet subtle role in the decision-making process, and considers how South Vietnam's Nguyen Van Thieu and North Vietnam's Le Duan decisively shaped the American exit. Prentice brings Vietnamese voices into the discussion and underscores the unprecedented influence of American civilians on US foreign policy during the Vietnamization era.