Solid scholarly history that should arouse spirited arguments among historians and will also appeal to a wider audience.



A historical revision of the last few years of the Vietnam War.

In this fine, thoroughly argued book, Daddis, the director of Chapman University’s MA Program in War and Society and the author of two well-regarded books on the war (Westmoreland's War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam, 2014, etc.), tackles the relatively understudied final years. He engages with a revisionist theory that emerged a few years after America’s withdrawal from the war, an argument that took a handful of different forms. For these revisionists, who tended to be defenders of the war and its legacy, the U.S. did not lose the war but rather lost the peace—or if it did lose the war, it was not a military defeat but a political one caused by weak-willed politicians who refused to carry through on the military’s pending victory. At the heart of this “better war” narrative is the changing of the military leadership in the wake of the 1968 Tet Offensive as Gen. Creighton Abrams led the U.S. forces away from the failed policies of Gen. William Westmoreland. In reasoned prose, Daddis, a retired Army colonel who served in both Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, eviscerates this revisionist argument. He takes readers methodically through the realities of Vietnam from spring 1968, showing how the change in strategy was not that profound in terms of its impact on the ground, that the separation of military from political policies represents a false dichotomy, and, perhaps most importantly, that the argument that the military could have won the war had the politicians only unshackled the military utterly ignores, among other elements, the agency of the Vietnamese people. Furthermore, the author reveals how the “better war” argument has real, modern-day ramifications, manifesting in equally flawed arguments about Gen. David Petraeus’ so-called “surge” in Iraq in 2007.

Solid scholarly history that should arouse spirited arguments among historians and will also appeal to a wider audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-069108-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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