The General Who Lost Vietnam

eBook - 2011
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"Scalding . . . Sorley, a West Point graduate and retired Army lieutenant colonel, is unsparing in his analysis of Westmoreland." -- Los Angeles Times "The subtitle says it all: 'The General Who Lost Vietnam' . . . Sorley has stripped away Westmoreland's after-the-fact mythologizing, leaving us with a deeply unflattering portrait of an army careerist who unintentionally did much damage to an institution -- and a country -- that he loved dearly. Westmoreland is a valuable addition to the growing 'revisionist' literature that shows the Vietnam War was winnable if we had fought differently." -- Max Boot, Wall Street Journal "Sweeping . . . [Sorley] pillories the hapless general for what are now seen as horrendous gaffes of counterinsurgency." -- TIME "A first-rate biography of a second-rate soldier." -- Washington Times "No American general has ever been more vilified than William C. Westmoreland, our senior military commander in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968 and the only American general to lose a war . . . Lewis Sorley, a distinguished military historian and Vietnam veteran himself, offers a stinging assessment . . . Napoleon supposedly said, 'Don't give me good generals, give me lucky ones.' This well-researched, engrossing, and hard-hitting biography demonstrates that its subject was neither." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer "An important contribution to the literature of the Vietnam War . . . The research is meticulous and the writing fascinating." -- Proceedings "A military historian's harsh take on the career of the general most associated with America's most controversial war . . . The general's defenders will have their hands full answering Sorley's blistering indictment." -- Kirkus Reviews "An engrossing portrait and analysis of how the decisions of one military leader could impact the lives of so many." -- Library Journal
"Engrossing and hard-hitting." -- Cleveland Plain Dealer In this searing and authoritative biography, Lewis Sorley makes the case that America's military failure in Vietnam could have been avoided were it not for one man. General William Westmoreland had the credentials to be a superb leader: from First Captain of his West Point class, he rocketed up the ranks, becoming for a time the army's youngest lieutenant general. But as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, Westmoreland was a disaster, failing to grasp the war's complexities and holding firm to a flawed strategy in spite of all evidence and opposition. The definitive portrait of a military man promoted beyond his capabilities, Westmoreland is essential reading from a master historian. "A terrific book, lively and brisk . . . and a must-read for anyone who tries to understand the Vietnam War." -- Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble Winner of the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547518275
Characteristics: data file
1 online resource (416 pages)
Call Number: eBook


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Jun 05, 2015

Covers his upbringing, boyhood, time as a cadet at the USMA, his early military career in WWII and Korea and his ascension to commander of US troops in Vietnam and beyond. I read because I never understood how we lost the war or why we even became involved in the first place since the French had been there for a decade or so fighting with nine different generals and couldn't defeat Vo Nguyen Giap's communist troops (aka Viet Cong). Includes discussion of U.S. tactics and superiority in air power, military equipment, technology and logistics and Westmoreland's traits and abilities. Search and destroy tactics employed by the U.S. were wrong from the get-go. (I don't think Patton could have faired better.) Author explains why. Also details the general's career after Vietnam and as a civilian. I felt empathy for Westmoreland. Finally, U.S. and French tactics employed were similar to those used in the previous wars and didn't apply to guerilla jungle warfare. Read the book about leader general Von Nguyen Giap who defeated the Japanese, French and, the U.S. His is an incredible man who defeated superior armies whom had superior technology and training. One of his strategies; If enemy attacks, retreat. When enemy is in camp, attack. When enemy is tired, attack. When enemy retreats, attack. You can't search and destroy that which you can not find or is not willing to engage on your terms.


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