From Publishers Weekly
This comprehensively researched monograph, based on the author's Ph.D. dissertation, depicts U.S. political leaders as the consistent driving force behind America's Vietnam commitment. Military leaders were wary of intervention from 1945 onward and deeply divided over U.S. prospects to the point that they frequently offered bleak evaluations of the situation. Dissenters in the armed forces, however, were stifled by a command structure that shifted the burden of decision-making onto political authority by demanding levels of escalation that were politically impossible to implement. The military thus dodged its share of responsibility for "losing" an unwinnable war. Buzzanco exaggerates the armed forces' appropriate role in policy-making; at times he virtually implies that the Joint Chiefs of Staff should have said "Enough" on their own authority, defying the political leadership if necessary. That overstated argument makes this a book to be used with caution, despite its valuable analysis of the military's negative perspective on the Vietnam War.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"The author has written an interesting and thought-provoking account of the relationship between civilian policy makers and their counterparts in the military during the Vietnam War." Pacific Affairs
"Buzzanco has written a bold, provocative book that challenges many assumptions. Based on judicious research in primary and secondary sources, Masters of War is a mandatory read for anyone interested in the military history of the Vietnam War." Houston Chronicle
"Buzzanco is particularly interesting on the views of military dissenters, including senior generals, who opposed either the war itself or the way the United States chose to wage it....there is much to be learned here." Foreign Affairs
"This is a brilliantly argued account that tells us who was responsible for what in Vietnam. It challenges some of our basic assumptions." Seymour Hersh, author of My Lai Four: A Report on the Massacre and Its Aftermath
"A diligently researched and thought-provoking contribution to the literature of Vietnam." Kirkus Reviews
"This ambitious book sweeps across the American military's relationship to the wars in Indochina and Vietnam. Drawing on an impressive range of primary sources, Buzzanco analyzes the military's view of the war, differences among the sevices, and civil-military relations." Journal of Military History
"No serious student of the Vietnam War can afford to miss this challenging and superbly researched book....Presents the most complete and nuanced account of the U.S. military's attitudes and actions toward Vietnam during the years 1950-1968...." Political Science Quarterly
"This work provides new insight on dissent within the ranks of the American military concerning policy and strategy during the warin Southeast Asia....should be examined by students and scholars...." History
"Masters of War will be most useful to those who already know a good dea about U.S. policy in Vietnam; they will find much that is new and significant....." Edwin E. Moise, Journal of Asian Studies