Review of "Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam" by Gregory A. Daddis

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Book Review

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Choice Reviews Online




Daddis, an instructor at the United States Military Academy, seeks to balance the harsh, but not wholly undeserved, historical judgment of General William Westmoreland. Daddis offers what can be best described as a counter-Lewis Sorley interpretation of Westmoreland, taking issue with Sorley's dismissive assessment of Westmoreland (e.g., Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam, 2011) in favor of the "savior general" Creighton Abrams (e.g., Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams, 1992), who replaced Westmoreland in Vietnam in 1968. Far from accepting that Abrams brought a new strategy, Daddis sees Abrams as simply steering a strategy that Westmoreland had already set in motion. Daddis claims that Westmoreland's approach, which went far beyond attrition, was too complex for Washington to fully appreciate. However, he concedes that no matter what strategy Westmoreland or later Abrams pursued, solving the political problem of a free, stable independent South Vietnam was beyond the broader Cold War strategic context under which the US pursued its military and political objectives in South Vietnam. Some will take issue with this provocative book as an extreme counter to Sorley's work, but specialists and students should read and thoughtfully consider it, as historians are hopefully and finally approaching a dispassionate discussion of Vietnam.