Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam
â€œWestmoreland is a great book, a classic by an author who knows his subject well and tells the story without hesitation.â€ â€” General Donn A. Starry, U.S. Army (ret.), Commander, Army Training and Doctrine Command (1977â€“1981)
Is it possible that the riddle of Americaâ€™s military failure in Vietnam has a one-word, one-man answer?
Unless and until we understand General W
He'd had an exemplary military career. He was a West Point graduate, saw combat in World War II and Korea, rapidly rose through the ranks in distinctive commands, including that of Superintendent of West Point. But Sorley's description is of a man not considered one of the ...more
Lewis Sorley did a stupendous amount of research for this book. There is so much detail that it is almost suffocates the narrative at times.
I don't think he makes his case, however, that Westmorland lost the Vietnam War. He has convinced me that Westy played a large, perhaps pivotal, role in the loss. But, the war was very big and multifaceted; there is plenty of blame to go around. I lay a lot also on Presidents Johnson and Nixon, on McNamara, and on the US Congress. He ...more
It also will not go down wel ...more
That being said, there is certainly something to gain by looking into the life of a general officer irrefutably linked in our Army's history, regardless of his success or failure.
With a decent knowledge of his performance during the Viet ...more
America was quick in its attempt to put the Vietnam War out of mind and move on, but for many of that semi-divided generation the long event was a life altering focal point. The war most ...more
Westmoreland provides the tragic look at the life of the man who led the armies in Vietnam and spent a lifetime trying to recover his reputation. Westmoreland was one of the most impressive military careers in the countries history from command of battalions to the 101st Airborne to superintendent of West Point to Chief of Staff. Finally he became the man in charge of Vietnam. All impressive for a man who did not hold any advanced military degrees or attend much beyond his first captaincy at Wes ...more
If so, then history must take a stern view of General William Westmoreland. Famous for his command of American forces in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, Westmoreland stands accused of being a careerist, promoted above his competence level, who fought Vietnam with the wrong tactics and allowed the Johnson Administration to use him politically as casualties rose and battlefield success grew more elusive.
A complex m ...more
Although the book wants to point blame to Westmoreland as the single word answer to the US failure in Vietnam, it would be awfully hard to point blame when in running a government, many people are to blame surely. After reading McNamara's book, the Johnson Adminstration acted on a faulty plan with a lack of intellgience, failing to understand the enemy. Westmoreland was putting ...more
All that being said, Westmoreland should not get off easily for his time as MACV Commander. Sorley highlights numerous instances where Westmoreland was either confused or lying, and his decision to make the Vietnam War a war of attrition and firepower proved to be unsuccessful at be ...more
However, Sorley spends way too much effort not only criticizing Westmoreland but straight out calling him an incompetent soldier and deceiver more interested in 'shaping history' than doing his job. This much narrative eye rolling is unnecessary and unprofes ...more
Pretty critical take here on Westmorlands strategies, styles, actions, and persona throughout.
If you believe Westmorland should take a big chunk of the blame for the Vietnam debacle, you will see eye to eye with this read.
Pretty well written, despite the clear agenda. Some good data.
Westmoreland actually believed he was infallible. He portrayed the faulty ugly American attitude that "We are Number One," and the world is indebted to the USA. Vietnam taught us differently,but Westmoreland never read that book.