Eric Layton's Reviews > Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did

Backfire by Loren Baritz
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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 politicians could get re-elected? So bureaucrats could continue their cush gigs while feeding from the public trough? So military men could give themselves medals and advance their careers? I have no respect for the entire lot of them.

The ones involved in that cluster-screw who I have respect and empathy for are the U.S. servicemen and women who were out there every day getting the asses shot at. The grunts slogging through the mud and mines to achieve some cockamamie goal dreamed up by suits sitting in air conditioned offices 10,000 mile away.

I have respect and empathy for the innocent Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians who suffered so much during this era. They lost so much to gain so little.

I have respect for North Vietnamese people and leaders. They outlasted the US. They bided their time. They suffered. They lost much. They won.

If you have any interest in this era, you should read this book. It was written in 1985, but could be used as a blueprint of what NOT TO DO in our current era when it comes to "limited wars" and wasting of human life for causes that cannot even remotely be classified as noble.
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Reading Progress

October 31, 2017 – Started Reading
October 31, 2017 – Shelved
November 10, 2017 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by terry (new) - added it

terry I have added to the ten books that I am reading. Eric, you are concentrating on Vietnam currrently. Your comments/reviews are spot on to my beliefs. Although I was not in Vietnam, I was wearinng a Army uniform and Vietnam was never far from my thoughts/nightmares.


Eric Layton Hi, Terry!

Yup... been consuming quite a few Nam books that I hadn't read before. Previously, I mostly read books on this topic that were focused on the mechanics of the conflict.

I've read many, many histories of the Vietnam era, but Ken Burns' recent documentary inspired me to read some more. I'm focusing mostly on the memoirs of the grunts who've learned to tell their story as a healing tool for themselves and others... Marlantes, O'Brien, Caputo, Everett Alvarez, etc.

I've said this to you before, and it sometimes sounds cheesy and insincere in this day and age, but thank you for your service to this country, my friend.


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