Tag Archives: Vietnam

Marilyn Young Analyzes Counterinsurgency

For the next National History Center and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Weekly History Seminar, Marilyn B. Young, Professor of History at New York University, analyzes “The Eternal Question of Counterinsurgency” on Monday, May 3, 2010 at the Wilson Center.

What are historians to make of the phrase made famous during the Vietnam war, “hearts and minds”? With the advantage of distance in time and the cooling of passions, it seems clear that the phrase reflected a tactic of counterinsurgency characteristic of the European colonial empires as well as the American attempt to find a solution to the war. The rediscovery of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan is not only a military tactic but also something that approaches an ideology—and something well worth discussing in the context of the war in Vietnam.

Please click here to watch a video presentation of the seminar.

Marilyn Young is a graduate of Vassar and Harvard. Her books include The Rhetoric of Empire: American China Policy, 1895–1901; The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990; and (with William G. Rosenberg) Transforming Russia and China: Revolutionary Struggle in the Twentieth Century. She also co-edited with Mark A. Bradley the first volume of the Center’s Reinterpreting History series, which is entitled Making Sense of the Vietnam War: Local, National, and Transnational Perspectives.

This is part of the weekly history seminar that aims to facilitate the understanding of contemporary affairs in light of historical knowledge of all times and places, and from multiple perspectives. Click here to see a complete listing of the schedule of speakers and topics, as well as videos of the presentations.

Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars Reviewed

The first volume of the Reinterpreting History series, published by Oxford University Press, received a great book review in the latest volume of the Journal of American History (volume 96, issue 1). The volume, entitled Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars: Local, National, and Transnational Perspectives is edited by Mark Philip Bradley and Marilyn B. Young.

Reviewer Patrick Hagopian from Lancaster University in Lancaster, England, says, “This volume gathers together a group of distinguished scholars to bring fresh perspectives to the question, ‘Why Vietnam?’ Their contributions address the factors that led the United States to intervene militarily in Vietnam and the reasons (other than military strategy and feats of arms) that the conflict developed and concluded as it did; they also demonstrate the liveliness of current historiographical debates. The emergence of new interpretations results in part from the availability of new Vietnamese-language archives, the declassification of documents in the United States, and the release of materials in China, Eastern Europe, and Russia…..

“…The new synthesis toward which this volume excitingly, although perhaps distantly, signals, will involve not just the integration of materials from various national archives but the tracing of the connections between the large-scale and finely observed local perspectives that its contributions explore. The cutting-edge research in this volume constitutes a crucial addition to the library of anyone interested in the histories of the Vietnam Wars.”


The full review is availabe at the  History Cooperative.  This volume, and the second volume in the series  on Atlantic History, are available for purchase through the Center’s E-Store.

Marilyn Young to Give Decolonization Lecture

The National History Center invites the public to attend its Decolonization Lecture Series Featuring Professor Marilyn B. Young on Limited War, Unlimited.

The lecture will be on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. in Room 119, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue, SE. It is part of the Fourth International Seminar on Decolonization hosted by the National History Center with funding provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The history of the Cold War in the United States is the history of how, while never abandoning World War II as the platonic ideal of war, post-war administrations were able to use military force in a limited, instrumental way. For this to be possible they had to create a public tolerance for war as normal rather than aberrational, so normal that after a while only those who were actively engaged in fighting it—and their families—noticed a war was being fought at all. War, as Joe Haldeman’s dystopian novel, The Forever War, predicted, would be “forever.” Professor Young’s lecture explores the many ways in which the “forever war” was manifested, first in Asia, and subsequently in the Middle East.

Marilyn Young received her PhD from Harvard University in 1963. She taught at the University of Michigan before coming to New York University in 1980 where she is a full professor in the Department of History. Professor Young teaches courses on the history of U.S. foreign policy, the politics and culture of post-war United States. Her publications include Rhetoric of Empire: American China Policy, 1895–1901; Transforming Russia and China: Revolutionary Struggle in the 20th Century (with William Rosenberg); and The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990.

A question and answer session will follow the presentation. Complimentary light refreshments will be served.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and will be webcast.

A second lecture is also scheduled for Wednesday, July 15, 2009 from 4:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. in Room 119, Jefferson Building, Library of Congress (101 Independence Avenue, SE) with Philippa Levine, Professor History at the University of Southern California. Her lecture is entitled Still Invisible: Women, Gender, and Decolonization.