The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

United States War in Vietnam, 1954–1975

  • John MarcianoEmail author
Living reference work entry


The US War in Vietnam was a long, horrific attack against the people and land. Nearly four million Vietnamese were killed, thousands of peasant villages and a traditional way of life were destroyed, and millions of acres of cropland and forests were devastated and poisoned from bombing and chemical warfare. More than 58,000 Americans died, and at least 304,000 were wounded in a criminal war that produced the greatest military and citizen dissent in US history.

The Imperialist Roots of the War

For many Americans, historian Gabriel Kolko writes, the war was “the turning point in their perception of the nature of American foreign policy, the traumatic event that required them to look again at the very roots, assumptions, and structure of a policy that is profoundly destructive and dangerous” (Kolko 1969, p. xi).

Imperialist aggression against Vietnam was directed by the elite managers of the US national security state. The historical record confirms Kolko’s thesis that...

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SUNY CortlandCortlandUSA