Professor of History Daniel J. Singal is the editor of a revised edition of “The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era,” by David Halberstam, recently published in paperback by Rowman and Littlefield. Singal also wrote the introduction to this edition, copies of which are available at The College Store.
Ellen Fitzpatrick, a historian at the University of New Hampshire and commentator on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, has said, “For all the legions of books published on the Vietnam War, none surpasses one of the earliest and most prescient — David Halberstam's 'The Making of a Quagmire.' … a brilliant study that has lost none of its power despite the history that unfolded after its publication. Halberstam's book deserves to be read again and again.”
Singal's introduction to the revised edition provides background information from documents that were classified when the book was written. He also added notes to explain people and events more familiar to a 1965 audience than a contemporary one.
Halberstam “understands that introducing American combat troops would almost certainly produce disaster,” Singal wrote, as President Lyndon Johnson was escalating the conflict. “Whatever military gains were brought by U.S. troops might soon be countered by political loss … It would be a war without fronts, fought against an elusive enemy, and extremely difficult for the American people to understand.”
Singal, a member of the HWS faculty since 1980, holds a bachelor's from Harvard, magna cum laude; and his master's and Ph.D. from Columbia, the latter with distinction.
“Quagmire” was Halberstam's second book; he went on to write 20 others, the last 14 of which were national best-sellers. His last, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War,” was published by Hyperion, five months after his death in April 2007.