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Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did
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Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  78 ratings  ·  8 reviews

"The first full-length and scholarly account of why we got into Vietnam in the first place, why we fought as barbarously as the Japanese in Manchuria or the Germans in Poland, and why we deserved to lose it -- indeed why we did have to lose it if we were to find any kind of ultimate peace." -- Henry Steele Commager, Amherst College

"A provocative and informative book writte

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Hardcover, 393 pages
Published January 1st 1985 by William Morrow & Company
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3.74  · 
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 ·  78 ratings  ·  8 reviews


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Poppydog
Sep 26, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This book, written in 1985, is virtually timeless when it comes to describing where America is socially, politically, intellectually and it can be used as a roadmap to discover what it is we are all about. I encourage people to read it so that they can perhaps glimpse a little about what makes us what we are as "a people". What is shows is that we have always had certain characteristics as a nation that have been with us even before we became a nation and that these characteristics are always go ...more
Eric Layton
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read many books on the Vietnam War. Most were all about the who, what, where, and how. This book, however, is about the WHY! And while many of the reasons behind this debacle in US history were known to me or suspected highly, Mr. Baritz puts it all out there in this book; the motivations, the errors in judgement, the manipulations, the lies and deceit, the ineptitude of our leaders (civilian and military), etc. It's just the whole sad story that cost so many lives.

And for what?

So politic
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Megan
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jonathan
Engaging and also somewhat discouraging. Baritz proposes that two traits of American society led to the Vietnam debacle: solipsism and relentless faith in technology.

Solipsism is the fallacy of treating the external world as nonexistent -- or, in this case, of assuming that the rest of the world is exactly like the United States and desires to conform to its wishes -- as if every person is an American waiting to happen. American leaders and citizens failed to appreciate that the Vietnamese might
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P
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I've read an undergraduate text--this is one of those that I "read" quickly in college to be ready for an exam. Now, I took my time reading it and pondering the issues surrounding the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict. As a matter of fact reading sessions were very exhausting! Author is quite pessimistic in his view that America will be forever hooked on failing war due to our culture. Also, when discussing the military, he seems to be stuck on those that were screwed up, ...more
Jessica
Dec 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A great overview of the Vietnam War. His emphasis on American culture's influence on a social, political, and bureaucratic level is fascinating and horrifying. It is hard to ignore parallels between the current "war on terror" and conduct during the Vietnam War.
ariella
Mar 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to read a more on Vietnam
One of the better "basic" Vietnam War books. Baritz has a wonderfully straightforward and approachable writing style.
IAMLEGION
Much wisdom can be learned from this totally absorbing account of the political and military actions in a place we knew nothing about, and the people in charge who wanted to know even less.
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