Footprints of War: Militarized Landscapes in Vietnam (Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books): David Biggs

When American forces arrived in Vietnam, they found themselves embedded in historic village and frontier spaces already shaped by many past conflicts. American bases and bombing targets followed spatial and political logics influenced by the footprints of past wars in central Vietnam. The militarized landscapes here, like many in the world’s historic conflict zones, continue to shape post-war land-use politics.

Footprints of War traces the long history of conflict-produced spaces in Vietnam, beginning with early modern wars and the French colonial invasion in 1885 and continuing through the collapse of the Saigon government in 1975. The result is a richly textured history of militarized landscapes that reveals the spatial logic of key battles such as the Tet Offensive.

Drawing on extensive archival work and years of interviews and fieldwork in the hills and villages around the city of Hue to illuminate war’s footprints, David Biggs also integrates historical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, using aerial, high-altitude, and satellite imagery to render otherwise placeless sites into living, multidimensional spaces. This personal and multilayered approach yields an innovative history of the lasting traces of war in Vietnam and a model for understanding other militarized landscapes.

Editorial Reviews


“Presents the history of this area as a form of stratigraphy, excavating layers of sedimented past where multiple military conflicts occurred. . . . A very welcome addition to the growing field of environmental history on Vietnam and on war and environment generally.”―Environmental History


“In this compelling and original book, Biggs innovatively combines environmental and social history to offer a fundamentally new narrative about the impact of war on Vietnamese society in the twentieth century.”―Mark Philip Bradley, University of Chicago

“David Biggs’s second major book on the social and environmental history of modern Vietnam. His nuanced use of Vietnamese-language publications and his extensive interviews with local people are outstanding. He tells a compelling story in fluent, vivid, and even lyrical prose, expressing compassionate insight into both society and ecosystem.”―Richard P. Tucker, University of Michigan

“In this rich and innovative new book, David Biggs considers the spatial dimension of the war in Vietnam through an examination of the densely layered militarized landscapes around Hu. The result is a gem, a fluid, authoritative, compelling work that shows just how deep, complex, and long-lasting were ‘the footprints of war.'”―Fredrik Logevall, author of Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam

About the Author

David Biggs is associate professor of history at the University of California, Riverside. He is the author of Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta, which won the George Perkins Marsh Prize for the best book in environmental history.

  • Hardcover : 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0295743867
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0295743868
  • Product Dimensions : 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Publisher : University of Washington Press; Illustrated Edition (October 9, 2018)

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