Wrong War

Why We Lost in Vietnam
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Published:June 3, 1998
By Jeffrey Record (Author)

Was the U.S. military prevented from achieving victory in Vietnam by poor decisions made by civilian leaders, a hostile media, and the antiwar movement, or was it doomed to failure from the start? Twenty-five years after the last U.S. troops left Vietnam, the most divisive U.S. armed conflict since the War of 1812 remains an open wound not only because 58,000 Americans were killed and billions of dollars wasted, but also because it was an ignominious, unprecedented defeat. In this iconoclastic new study, Vietnam veteran and scholar Jeffrey Record looks past the consensual myths of responsibility to offer the most trenchant, balanced, and compelling analysis ever published of the causes for America's first defeat.

Sure to spark widespread discussion and argument among veterans, academics, policy-makers, military professionals, and interested citizens, this landmark contribution breaks new ground by candidly examining the strategic failures of the military's leadership—long portrayed as innocent victims—and exploring whether a different policy could have avoided defeat. With a rare blend of relevant personal experience and impeccable scholarship, Record establishes four root causes for the U.S. defeat in a logical, easy-to-follow argument that explodes earlier professional assessments and popular appraisals. Vietnam-noble cause, international crime, or strategic mistake? Record's surprising and sometimes incendiary answers to these and other questions critical to the future success of the civilian-run military will ensure that the armed forces' accountability in Vietnam is no longer overlooked.

List Price: $32.95
Member Price: $26.36
Product Details
  • Subject: Vietnam War
  • Hardback : 256 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (June 3, 1998)
  • ISBN-10: 155750699X
  • ISBN-13: 9781557506993
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 17.6 oz
  • "Record spares no one in this brief but thoughtful examination of all the old arguments and all the old questions." — The New York Times Book Review, Joseph L. Galloway
  • "While Jeffrey Record has produced an engaging survey of various positions in our longstanding national debate, his own rather fatalistic interpretation of the roads taken in that conflict hardly constitutes the last word. In particular, his unwillingness to consider paths that might have led to victory are uncomfortably of a piece with the shibboleths that have given us self-paralyzing conceptions like the Powell doctrine." — Commentary, Max Boot
  • "Record's contributions to Cold War national security and current military historiography have earned the critical respect of soldiers and scholars alike. His latest work represents a major addition to Vietnam War literature. It is a literate and detailed analysis of the American military strategy and political effort, with chapters on the frequently ignored South Vietnamese political, military, and social conditions, the air wars in both North and South Vietnam, the ground war, and the infighting between military factions in the Pentagon and their civilian counterparts. Record's views are based on an extensive background in the era as an academic and as a civilian worker in the Office of Civil Operations for Revolutionary Development Support in South Vietnam. This overview of a still-controversial topic should be considered essential for academic libraries and for advanced readers in public libraries." — Library Journal

Jeffrey Record is a professor of strategy at the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama. He served in Vietnam as a civilian pacification adviser and received his doctorate from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

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