A University of Southern Mississippi history professor’s latest book on the Vietnam War has earned the most prestigious honor bestowed by the Society for Military History, considered the world’s leading organization in the field.
Dr. Andrew Wiest has received the society’s Distinguished Book Award in the biography/memoir category for “Vietnam’s Forgotten Army: Heroism and Betrayal in ARVN” which was published last year. The award recognizes the best book-length publications in English on military history, whether monograph, bibliography, guide, or other project copyrighted in the previous three calendar years.
“It’s quite gratifying to know that the seven years put into the research for and production of the book resulted in a product that has met with the approval of your peers,” said Wiest. “More importantly, though, such recognition should help to raise the profile of the great things that we are doing in the Department of History and in its Center for the Study of War and Society.”
Vietnam’s Forgotten Army is a dual biography of two officers from the South Vietnamese military (the Army of the Republic of Vietnam or ARVN), Tran Ngoc Hue and Pham Van Dinh. The two men were friends and rising young stars in the ARVN, but their careers came to very different ends.
Hue fought to the end before being badly wounded in Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971 before serving 13 years in North Vietnamese prisons. Dinh, though, surrendered his entire regiment during the Easter Offensive of 1972 and defected to the enemy. In tracing their lives, Wiest’s book recasts the Vietnam War into a South Vietnamese perspective and analyzes what the author contends was a flawed alliance between U.S. and South Vietnamese forces.
Southern Miss College of Arts and Letters Dean Dr. Denise von Herrmann said the award “confirms what we have long known--that Dr. Andrew Wiest is among the top scholars in the field of War and Society and we are indeed fortunate to have him here at Southern Miss.”
Established in 1933 as the American Military History Foundation, the society was renamed in 1939 the American Military Institute and in 1990 renamed again the Society for Military History. It is devoted to stimulating and advancing the study of military history and its membership has included many of the nation's most prominent scholars, soldiers and citizens interested in military history.
Wiest has been associated with the society since 2000, attending its annual conference where scholars and military professionals in the field meet, present cutting edge military research and network. Wiest often presents a paper at the event or comments on conference sessions.
“The conference is where military history is tested, debated and born,” Wiest said. “It’s also a breeding ground for new and important books that influence both our perception of the past and our present military strategy.”
Assistant professor of history Dr. Kyle Zelner said his colleague’s book offers “an extraordinarily effective lens for understanding the war in Vietnam on the human level, which is what all good history is about.” He believes the society’s recognition of Wiest’s book is also a testament to the work of the center and department’s faculty.
“I think it proves our center and its historians are recognized as one of the top two or three programs for war and society studies in the country, to say nothing of our growing international reputation,” Zelner said.
Dr. Andrew Wiest
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.