On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War
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On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Summer's inspired analysis of America's war in Vietnam answers the most pressing questions remaining from that terrible conflict more than a decade before Robert McNamara's painful admissions.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Presidio Press (first published April 1981)
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Mike Hankins
This book, like many war books, is more interesting as an artifact of historiography than it is as actual history. It's important to read it, only because so many other people have read it and it exerts a large influence on the literature. That said, its not a particularly good book. Its analysis is simplistic and seems a bit under-researched.

Calling it a work of history is a bit misleading. 'On Strategy' does live up to the title of critically analyzing the Vietnam conflict, but it mostly assum...more
Richard Quis
A strategic examination based on the classic principals of war that provides insight into how a superpower with overwhelming conventional superiority can exhaust itself against a militarily sophisticated third world country. Clausewitz's theory and Summers explanation of "friction"in war ..."how even the simplest of tasks become difficult as countless minor incidents combine to lower the general level of performance"...is worth the read alone.

Summers makes clear there is no such thing as a "sple...more
Colonel Summers offers a critical analysis on the pursuit of the war in Vietnam, strictly from a military strategy standpoint (he stays out of the "ideological" arena). It's focus is on what went wrong, what went right, as well as what needed to improve. In his analysis, he uses the standards of Clausewitz as stated in "On War".
Ben B
Feb 09, 2011 Ben B rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: i-own
The best analysis of the Vietnam War I have read. Harry Summers, who was there, takes a birds-eye view of the overall strategic situation, and explains exactly what the USA did wrong.
Sep 23, 2013 Dustin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: persons
Recommended to Dustin by: Jason Krishnan
This is better than anything I've ever read about the Vietnam War. He shines in communicating what the theater looked like and how politics shaped the actions of the players.

The single most impressive account of Vietnam from the strategic, not political, standpoint. A must read if you are a student of military history.
David Farrell
Great book; it significantly increased my understanding of the Vietnam War's historical context in relation to WWII, Korea, and the Cold War. The book examines the war strategies of the Americans, South Vietnamese, and North Vietnamese during the conflict in Vietnam. Summers applies various elements of Clausewitz' war theories to explain the environment and the engagement. He succinctly provides historical evidence and analysis to support the reasons for America's successes, challenges and failu...more
Colonel Summers tells us that the United States should have fought North Vietnam without geographic restraint. He argues that this would have weakened the insurgency in the south by cutting off northern support. This comes off as wishful thinking built on the idea that the southern government was competent to fight the insurgency on its own, that the north would come out and fight us the way we wanted, and that the southern insurgency was highly dependent on support from the north.
Started out so strong and interesting and after a while I felt a little like the author was repeating the same thoughts over and over and just changing up how he presented them in each new chapter. It's still worth reading, but this will never be considered a comprehensive history of the war, or a comprehensive anything for that matter. Make this an auxiliary compendium to go along with some other books on the subject.
Another interesting perspective about the war in Vietnam. However, this book tends to blame less, and instead, focus on areas that needed improvement, everything from military & civilian strategists and military doctrine. The book states that if we had stuck with Clausewitz' theories on war and had a clear strategy (created by political factors, carried out by military), then we would have been successful. Very interesting.
Jun 27, 2008 Miik rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History/ War Buffs, Hippies
Recommended to Miik by: The General
This book proves that the reason we lost the Vietnam War was bad marketing. Fascinating read.
Robert Frick
This is a good read for those that want to have a better understanding of the Vietnam War.
Really great analysis of one of America's most controversial wars.
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