top of page

By early 1972, the end of America’s long twilight struggle in Vietnam was finally drawing near. “Vietnamization” saw U.S. troop strength plummet to its lowest level since 1965, even as military planners ramped up efforts to train and equip South Vietnam to stand alone. That January, President Richard Nixon revealed that for more than two years his administration had conducted secret peace negotiations with North Vietnam. Nixon’s latest proposal called for the withdrawal of all foreign military from South Vietnam and the release of all prisoners of war. Indeed, hundreds of American POWs had for years languished in brutal captivity at the hands of the communists, and their liberation was a cornerstone of administration peace policy. All that remained was North Vietnam’s acceptance.

But Hanoi said no. General Secretary Le Duan calculated that Vietnamization had failed, and the time was ripe for final victory on the battlefield. So it was that on 30 March 1972, 30,000 North Vietnamese troops, supported by armor and heavy artillery, rolled across the DMZ separating North and South Vietnam. Within a month, that number would grow fourfold, as some 120,000 troops and hundreds of tanks pressed South Vietnam on three fronts. But what Hanoi did not calculate was the ferocity of the U.S. response. American airpower—now unshackled by a president desperate to achieve an “honorable peace”—would rain destruction unlike anything the North Vietnamese had experienced.

Before it was over, Hanoi would be pushed to its breaking point—and ultimately toward a fragile peace in Paris. As for the United States, the deep wounds of that long and divisive war would soon be partially healed, as cheering crowds joyously welcomed home those so long held against their will. Drawing on archival research and interviews with those who were there, J. Keith Saliba helps tell the tale of America’s last fateful year in Vietnam, when war became peace…and desolation turned to deliverance. (Battlespace Books, 2023)

Image of author's next book, in that hour of deliverance: linebacker, homecoming, and the end of america's war in vietnam

Order Now

bottom of page