WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- Professor of history David Schmitz, a nationally recognized scholar and author on American history and foreign policy, began wondering about the Vietnam War while he was still in high school and studying U.S. foreign policy in graduate school. His subsequent journey through history has led him to examine and analyze the foreign policy documents of every president since Woodrow Wilson. His latest book analyzes what many consider to be the defining moment in the Vietnam War.


In The Tet Offensive: Politics, War, and Public Opinion (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005), Schmitz places the Tet Offensive in the context of American foreign policy and the state of the war up to 1968. Through his up-to-date analysis of recently available sources, Schmitz works to dispel myths and clarify the central debates that brought an end to American escalation of the war and led to President Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal from the presidential race.


Schmitz, the Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History at Whitman, has made a career of carefully researching and analyzing primary documents in the National Archives and other official venues. (In 1991 he was among the first American scholars to visit Vietnam since the end of the war.) Schmitz then uses the information he collects in his classes as well as to write books, and he regularly includes students in his research.


Schmitz has worked with many students in his years at Whitman, with the help of the college’s Abshire and Perry Awards for student-faculty research.  A Summer 2002 Perry Research Award enabled Erin Gettling ’03 to help research The Tet Offensive.


Schmitz’s previous books include The United States and Fascist Italy, 1922-1940; Thank God They’re on Our Side: The United States and Right-Wing Dictatorships, 1921-1965; and Henry L. Stimson, The First Wise Man. His next book, The United States and Right-wing Dictatorships, 1965-89, will be published in March 2006 by Cambridge University Press. It is a follow up to his earlier Thank God They’re on Our Side.


For more information and comments from Schmitz about The Tet Offensive please look in the forthcoming December Whitman Magazine.