Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War, Revised Edition

  • Subject: Vietnam War
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Published:
    July 15, 2019
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    27 oz
Hardcover $39.00
Member Price $31.20 Save 20%
Book: Cover Type


On July 31, 1964, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Maddox (DD-731) began a reconnaissance cruise off the coast of North Vietnam. On August 2, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats attacked the ship. On the night of August 4, the Maddox and another destroyer, the USS Turner Joy (DD-951), expecting to be attacked, saw what they interpreted as hostile torpedo boats on their radars and reported themselves under attack. The following day, the United States bombed North Vietnam in retaliation. Congress promptly passed, almost unanimously and with little debate, a resolution granting President Lyndon Johnson authority to take "all necessary measures" to deal with aggression in Vietnam.

The incident of August 4 is at the heart of this book. The author interviewed numerous Americans who were present. Most believed in the moment that an attack was occurring. By the time they were interviewed, there were more doubters than believers, but the ones who still believed were more confident in their opinions. Factoring in degree of assurance, one could say that the witnesses were split right down the middle on this fundamental question. A careful and rigorous examination of all other forms of evidence, including intercepted North Vietnamese naval communications that NSA had not yet released at the time the first edition of this book was published, lead to a firm conclusion that no attack occurred that night.

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“This work is the definitive history of the events in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964 that propelled the United States into the long, bloody, and devastating war in Southeast Asia. The strength of the work is the author’s comprehensive, balanced, and insightful analysis of thousands of items of once highly classified material and interviews with scores of Americans and Vietnamese on both sides connected to the pivotal episode. This history should be considered a starting point for any serious study of the early months of the Vietnam War.” —Edward J. Marolda, author, Combat at Close Quarters: An Illustrated History of the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War (Naval Institute Press) and former Director of Naval History (Acting), Naval Historical Center
“Professor Moise has combined his previous meticulous research with signals intelligence from the National Security Agency, to produce the final, detailed work of what did occur and did NOT occur that night in the Gulf of Tonkin. This work definitively shows how the Johnson administration accepted the story of an attack despite contradictory intelligence. And it establishes the central role of the Gulf of Tonkin in the eventual full-scale American intervention in the Vietnam conflict.” —Robert J Hanyok, Retired Department of Defense historian and author of Spartans in Darkness: American SIGINT in the Indochina War, 1945-1975