Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Book Review: Empire Defeated

Reading Time: < 1 minutes

Marisa Bernardi, Socialist Party Sydney, reviews Peter Taaffe’s Empire Defeated
The horrific Vietnam War, which reached its heights in the late 1960?s, aroused world wide opposition to the intervention.
Then, as now, Australia?s conservative Liberal government jumped on the bandwagon to invade a country which the US had in its sights. Peter Taaffe?s book Empire Defeated reminds us of the US justification to go to war. The Gulf of Tonkin incident was this justification which was later proved to be a lie. The book also reminds us of how the Vietnamese people in their resistance to the imperialist invasion ignited a passion internationally amongst students and workers to end the brutal war.
We read of mass demonstrations at times lead by students, of trade unions being invigorated by the students and the flow on effects that this had internationally.
Though the book is written for mainly a British readership, its lesson are relevant for all. Interesting reading about the then British Wilson Labour government?s balancing act on the war- although Wilson gave general support to the US in Vietnam, he could not commit British troops as Blair has done in Iraq. That would have created huge opposition from within the labour movement and possibly threatened the very existence of his government.
Empire Defeated is not a detailed exposition of the war, rather it is an overall view drawing out the main political lessons and how they apply today. More than anything, this book reminds us that for all the napalm bombs, planes, tanks and bullets used by the strongest military power in the world, the US was defeated by the heroic struggles of the Vietnamese people combined with mass action by students and workers internationally. This is a must read.
$15 from Socialist Party
Publlished by Socialist Party England/Wales