Review – Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam
The author would have you takeaway: Westmoreland was a decent enough officer who just happened to be in the wrong slot at the wrong time in the wrong place and was dwarfed by his responsibilities. Westmoreland flailed under the pressure. Westmoreland failed under the pressure. The war failed.
Simply, the book decimates Westmoreland. But I kind of like that. There’s value on just ripping apart a creature that was responsible when everything went to hell. Not so much from a historical perspective, but from an leadership lessons perspective. Obviously, there’s more value if you can juxtapose it with a more flattering text.
Growing up I read the biographies of all the generals and admirals I could get my hands on: Patton, Nimitz, Rommel etc. MacArthur always struck a chord with me for various underdog reasons. But the first book I found about him didn’t like him (I think it was Old Soldier’s Never Die), much like this book Westmoreland. So I went on and read American Caesar (great), MacArthur’s own Reminiscences (still one of my favorite books). Never got around to D. Clayton James’ four volumes on MacArthur’s life, but the set is on the bucket list. If this book can spark the same for you, then it’s done something great.
Anyway. If you’re reading several books on Vietnam (or have), add this one to the stack. Especially if you’re just looking for command lessons.
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