CU-Boulder's Robert Schulzinger Earns Prize For Book On Vietnam War

Published: Feb. 19, 1998

Professor Robert D. Schulzinger of the University of Colorado at Boulder has received the 1997 Robert Ferrell Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations for the best book on foreign relations.

Schulzinger, a professor of history, won the prize for his book, "A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975" published last year by Oxford University Press. The prize includes a $1,000 award.

The award committee cited Schulzinger's "most impressive" use of records from 40 different archives in three countries to produce the book, his "splendid job of integrating military, diplomatic and domestic factors" and judgments that are "at once critical but nuanced and balanced."

Schulzinger teaches a popular CU-Boulder class, "The Vietnam War and Its Legacy," which consistently is filled to capacity and has a wait list. "I've seen interest in the subject just skyrocket over the past two decades," he said.

In the Ronald Reagan era, students were primarily interested in how the United States could have won the war, he said. Now that the Cold War is over, students want to know why the U.S. got involved with a war that came with such a terrible cost.

The book addresses important events that occurred long before most people became aware of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. It also addresses the often-discussed question of what would have happened if John Kennedy had not been assassinated.

Although no one knows for sure, "Everything we do know about Kennedy is that Vietnam was extremely important to him," Schulzinger said. Kennedy thought it was very important to demonstrate resolve against communism.

Lyndon Johnson was extremely uneasy about the war but believed he could not get support to enact his Great Society programs without also fighting in Vietnam. "He was absolutely wrong," Schulzinger said.

Schulzinger is working on a new book about the legacy of the Vietnam War called "A Time for Peace."