In the wake of Ken Burns’ most recent series, The Vietnam War, America’s fascination with the conflict shows no sign of abating. Fortunately the flood of popular retellings of old narratives is supplemented by a number of well-researched and reasoned efforts aimed at garnering a better sense of how our presumptions about the Vietnam War are in need of reinterpretation and revision. Returning to New Books in Military History is historian Gregory A. Daddis, author of two recent accounts of the war that together offer a sharp reassessment of the American effort. In Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing America’s Strategy in Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2014) and Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2017) Daddis challenges many existing perceptions of the readiness and roles of MACV’s two most prominent commanders, Generals William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams, as well as their struggles with the Washington defense establishment during the war. By centering his study on the strategic planning and its execution, Daddis not only acknowledges the centrality of Vietnamese agency in the outcome of the war, he also reveals how some historians have misjudged the war’s outcome to present flawed visions of possible victory.
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