April 15, 2013

Fredrik Logevall, Cornell History Professor, Wins Pulitzer Prize for Book on Vietnam War

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Prof. Fredrik Logevall, history,  was “stunned” when he learned Monday that he had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.

“It was a shock to get the news,” said Logevall, who is also the director of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies.

Logevall spent time working on the book — which was published last August — “on and off” for 10 years, he said, adding that he did a lot of travelling to research the places he was writing about.

“It’s the sort of book that requires a lot of research,” he said. “I traveled to Vietnam several times — one of the things I think is important is to be able to walk the ground about which I’m writing, to walk the battlefield … [that’s] one reason it took a long time to write.”

Embers of War is a history of the early years in the Vietnam struggle, beginning at the end of World War I and examining the next 40 years in the country’s history, Logevall said. The book is a prequel to Choosing War, Logevall’s Ph.D. dissertation — which was published as a book in 2001 — about heavy U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Logevall is teaching a class this semester on the Vietnam Wars against France and the U.S. Logevall said his interest in Vietnam began when he was a graduate student.

“I decided that I wanted to understand how the U.S. became involved in and fought this long and bloody war,” he said. “I thought initially my dissertation would be my only book, but I’ve published four books [about Vietnam].”

Logevall said, however, that he is uncertain what the focus of his next book will be.

“Right now, I sort of want to get away from Vietnam, but I think I might have more to say about the Vietnam War in the future,” he said.

Original Author: Sarah Cutler