Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam
Author: Thomas P. McKenna
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (2011)
Binding: Hardcover, 376 pages
In the spring of 1972, North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam in what became known as the Easter Offensive. There were American advisors with the South Vietnamese armed forces but almost all other American forces had already withdrawn from Vietnam. When the invasion started, powerful U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy forces returned to Southeast Asia. South Vietnam's 23rd Infantry Division and its American advisers were sent to defend the provincial capital of Kontum in the Central Highlands. They were surrounded and attacked by three enemy divisions with heavy artillery and tanks but, with the help of air power, managed to successfully defend Kontum and prevent South Vietnam from being cut in half and defeated in 1972. Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam is the first in-depth account of this violent engagement. It describes the events leading up to the invasion and then the battle in Kontum.
Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam is an excellent, detailed history of the Battle of Kontum. The author, a career Army officer, who personally participated in the battle, researched official records and gathered first hand information from dozens of other military personnel who were also there to make this combat narrative one of the most complete accounts of this critical battle. This successful defense of the central highlands of South Vietnam in 1972 was essential in preventing South Vietnam from being cut in two.
The spring offensive in 1972 was the first time North Vietnam sent its regular army in mass and with its large T-54 tanks to attack the south. It came at a time when the U.S. was deep into its drawdown of combat troops in Vietnam. As a result, the ground battle was fought almost completely between South and North Vietnamese troops. Fortunately, U.S. airpower provided critical support to the south and US military advisors provided extensive on the scene guidance and coordination. The author was one of these advisors.
The author’s detailed accounts of the fighting make this book a must read for anyone interested in military history and particularly for anyone studying or who simply enjoys reading about the Vietnam War.
Reviewed by: Bob Doerr (2012)