From Publishers Weekly
This is an evenhanded, well-documented account of America's deepening involvement in Vietnam during the critical months from November '64 to July '65, when the line between limited and large-scale war was crossed. Freelance writer VanDeMark analyzes the tangle of conflicting pressures confronting President Johnson and his advisers. LBJ comes across here as a haunted, equivocating figure caught in an excruciating dilemma. VanDeMark painstakingly reconstructs from documents, interviews and memoirs a series of dramatic dialogues in the Oval Office, revealing, for example, how adviser George Ball came to stand virtually alone in his passionate opposition to escalation of the war (Clark Clifford eventually became an ally). The author concludes that LBJ lacked the inner strength to overrule the hawkish counsel of Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, McGeorge Bundy and others, and that his July '65 decision to double the number of ground combat troops in Vietnam was a tragic lapse of statesmanship.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A fascinating examination of presidential decision-making at the outset of the Vietnam War....A fine and convincing revisionist analysis."--Kirkus Reviews
"Contribute[s] significantly to understanding how Johnson failed in Vietnam....VanDeMark does an excellent job of correlating Johnson's preoccupation with his Great Society with his escalation decisions."--American Historical Review
"A detailed and compelling story....Provides significant and thoughtful lessons for today."--Proceedings (U.S. Naval Institute)
"Brian Van De Mark provides a carefully documented and well-written account of the pressures encountered by President Johnson when he made the fateful escalation decisions from the end of 1964 to the summer of 1965. Van De Mark effectively demonstrates how and why Johnson was influenced during these early stages of the conflict."--Perspectives on Political Science