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A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam Paperback – Bargain Price, April 10, 2007
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Neglected by scholars and journalists alike, the years of conflict in Vietnam from 1968 to 1975 offer surprises not only about how the war was fought, but about what was achieved. Drawing from thousands of hours of previously unavailable (and still classified) tape-recorded meetings between the highest levels of the American military command in Vietnam, A Better War is an insightful, factual, and superbly documented history of these final years. Through his exclusive access to authoritative materials, award-winning historian Lewis Sorley highlights the dramatic differences in conception, conduct, and--at least for a time--results between the early and later years of the war. Among his most important findings is that while the war was being lost at the peace table and in the U.S. Congress, the soldiers were winning on the ground. Meticulously researched and movingly told, A Better War sheds new light on the Vietnam War.
Amazon Exclusive Essay: "New Vietnam War History" by Lewis Sorley, Author of A Better War
For a long time most people thought the long years of American involvement in the Vietnam War were just more of the same--with a bad ending. Now we know that during the latter years, when General Creighton Abrams commanded U.S. forces, almost everything changed, and for the better. Abrams understood the nature of the war and devised a more availing approach to the conduct of it. Building up South Vietnam's own armed forces got high priority, whereas before they had been neglected and allowed to go into combat outgunned by the enemy. The covert infrastructure which through terror and coercion kept South Vietnam's rural population under domination was painstakingly rooted out, not ignored as earlier. And combat operations were greatly improved, concentrating on large numbers of patrols and ambushes designed to provide security for the people rather than cumbersome large-unit sweeps through the deep jungle. Some commentators have called the description of these changes "revisionist" history, but actually it is new history. Virtually all the better-known earlier books about the war concentrated heavily on the early years, leaving the later period grossly neglected. New insight came importantly from a collection of hundreds of tape recordings of briefings and staff meetings in General Abrams's headquarters during the four years he commanded in Vietnam. They are filled with human drama, professional debate, successes and frustrations, and ultimately a hard-won triumph, told in the voices of Abrams and his senior associates; such visiting officials as the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and a succession of often brilliant briefing officers. Later, of course, what they had won was thrown away by the United States Congress, but the story of their better war is still a dramatic testament to courage, integrity, devotion, and professional competence.--Lewis Sorley
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Lewis Sorley deflates each and every one of these truisms and helps to tell the real and much more tragic story of the Vietnam War. Through a thorough analysis of America's command strategy under Abrams he shows how Americans came to understand the war as it was and fought much more effectively. Sorley's experience as a military historian helps him to explain the course of the war on the battlefield, particularly the outcome of the Easter Invasion. Lacking the leftist biases of many Vietnam War historians also allows him to discuss the unsavory side of the Communist struggle - and the fact that they were just as dependent on their patrons as South Vietnam was on us. Additionally, his use of Communist sources details just how effectively the Allies fought after 1968.
I picked up this book believing that we should have stayed out of Vietnam. I put it down feeling that our abandonment of the South was perhaps the most profound act of cowardice in American history. Sorley's book captures the tragedy of this abandonment - and the lost possibilities for millions of South Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians, too many of whom did not survive long after the "liberation".
After running on a platform to end the protracted conflict, Nixon won the Oval Office at the height of the war in 1968. National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger began direct secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese behind the Saigon government's back.
In 1965 the United States had taken over conduct of the war, with troop strength peaking at 560,000. Before that, the South Vietnamese had fought the brewing war themselves, with the help of American advisers who were first dispatched by President John F. Kennedy. South Vietnam also had a young but capable air force, along with a navy, Airborne troops, Rangers and Marines.
The South Vietnamese military hurriedly expanded its capabilities with the goal of replicating the military philosophy, tactics and structure of their great ally. Unfortunately, this meant inheriting the associated cost, complexity and continued dependence on the United States.
South Vietnam's military was tested in the biggest battles of the war, larger than anything U.S. ground troops had faced in previous years: Lam Son 719 (the incursion into Laos), the Easter Offensive (the largest battle of the war and one where the South Vietnamese withstood a 120,000-man assault, albeit with the help of U.S.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am about 5 chapters in. I was in VietNam from July, 1970 to August, 1972, so this era is important to me.Published 3 months ago by John Walters
Evidently Generals have someone who writes down every word (colorful words and all) they say and archives all of their message traffic. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Charter Tschirgi
A great read and came away with a different perspective of the end game in Vietnam. Book seller offered the book at a great price.Published 7 months ago by ALEX S. FABROS JR
A realistic point-of-view of how the Vietnam war was managed. With the press writing that the war was lost due to the 68 Tet offensive ( which most military specialists say is... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sops
Very well-researched and written story of the war from mid-1968 to the end. Lesson: do not let politicians run wars. They will screw it up. Read morePublished 8 months ago by San Juan
This book explores the side of the Vietnam War's history which the media chose to either ignore or distort. Mind-exploding!Published 8 months ago by Richard C. Woodring
I would say it is a "must read" for any Vietnam veteran, as it describes in well documented detail how the US forces in Vietnam were essentially blocked from victory in a... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Robert E. Blake