The General Who Lost Vietnam

Book - 2011
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Is this man the real reason the Vietnam War was lost? How did he get there, why did he fail, and how did he last so long? Unless and until we understand General William Westmoreland, we will never understand what happened to us in Vietnam, or why. An Eagle Scout at fifteen, First Captain of his West Point class, Westmoreland fought in World War II and Korea, rising rapidly to command the 101st Airborne Division and become Superintendent at West Point, then was chosen to lead the war effort in Vietnam. That turned out to be a disaster. He failed to understand a complex war, choosing a flawed strategy, sticking to it in the face of all opposition, and misrepresenting the results when truth mattered most. In so doing he squandered four years of support by Congress, much of the media, and the American people. The tragedy of William Westmoreland provides lessons not just for Vietnam, but for America’s future military and political leadership.-- From publisher description.
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, c2011
ISBN: 9780547518268
Characteristics: x, 395 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm


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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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