Westmoreland's War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam

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9780199316502: Westmoreland's War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam
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General William C. Westmoreland has long been derided for his failed strategy of "attrition" in the Vietnam War. Historians have argued that Westmoreland's strategy placed a premium on high "body counts" through a "big unit war" that relied almost solely on search and destroy missions. Many believe the U.S. Army failed in Vietnam because of Westmoreland's misguided and narrow strategy

In a groundbreaking reassessment of American military strategy in Vietnam, Gregory Daddis overturns conventional wisdom and shows how Westmoreland did indeed develop a comprehensive campaign which included counterinsurgency, civic action, and the importance of gaining political support from the South Vietnamese population. Exploring the realities of a large, yet not wholly unconventional environment, Daddis reinterprets the complex political and military battlefields of Vietnam. Without searching for blame, he analyzes how American civil and military leaders developed strategy and how Westmoreland attempted to implement a sweeping strategic vision.

Westmoreland's War is a landmark reinterpretation of one of America's most divisive wars, outlining the multiple, interconnected aspects of American military strategy in Vietnam-combat operations, pacification, nation building, and the training of the South Vietnamese armed forces. Daddis offers a critical reassessment of one of the defining moments in American history.

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About the Author:


Gregory Daddis is Associate Professor History at Chapman University.

Review:


"Daddis's book will compel many scholars to revisit their histories of Vietnam."--Daniel P. Murphy, Journal of American Culture


"Westmoreland's War...both rehabilitates Westmoreland's image and plants a stake in the heart of the distorted specter of him that has long haunted Vietnam War historiography. ... Backed by copious endnotes, Daddis demonstrates that contrary to legend Westmoreland developed an intelligent and comprehensive military strategy that was consistent with U.S. national policy and President Lyndon B. Johnson's larger political agenda....By demonstrating that the Army did try (not always successfully) to apply counterinsurgency doctrine and that this doctrine was insufficient to produce victory, Westmoreland's War directly challenges the unrealistic faith that some people have placed in counterinsurgency and nation building."--Army History Magazine


"[A] seminal work."--Army Magazine


"Westmoreland's War is an important book, and Gregory Daddis has provided a new and sophisticated look at the man many have blamed for America's defeat."--The VVA Veteran


"Westmoreland's War is truly a remarkable achievement. Daddis has vividly captured the complexities of Westmoreland's Vietnam strategy and the difficulties the U.S. faced in trying to implement it. Exhaustive in its research and breathtaking in its analysis, Daddis' book is now the standard for understanding the U.S. military escalation in Vietnam."--Robert K. Brigham, Vassar College


"In Westmoreland's War, one of the best historians of the Vietnam conflict deftly challenges a deeply encrusted cliché-that the U.S. forces failed in Vietnam because of the narrow-mindedness and ineptitude of the man who commanded them in the war's most important years. This boldly argued and convincing work of revisionism deserves the attention of any serious student of America's most controversial war."--Mark Atwood Lawrence, author of The Vietnam War: A Concise International History


"Westmoreland's War asks a question that should not startle but does: is it possible to have a sound military strategy and still lose a war? This is the question Gregory Daddis poses in his splendid history of the Vietnam War as it was fought by General William Westmoreland. The standard story of Westmoreland's failure turns out to be wrong in almost every particular, and Daddis' analysis of why and how it is wrong has major implications not only for our understanding of Vietnam, but also for how we can understand current U.S. military engagements. This is a book that must be read by anyone interested in the past, present, and future of America's wars."--Marilyn B. Young, New York University


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