A thought-provoking, well-researched diagnosis of the Vietnam War.



A military history book analyzes the sources of America’s failures in the Vietnam War.

People have been arguing about what went wrong in the Vietnam War since before it ended. Some say it was an unwinnable conflict from the start and that the United States should never have gotten involved. Others believe that the American military could easily have won the war, but its hands were tied by civilian leaders who didn’t have the stomach for more aggressive tactics. Rothmann (None Will Surpass, 2014), a West Point graduate, retired Army colonel, and veteran soldier who led infantry units into combat in Vietnam, has his own theories: “Leader misjudgments and miscalculations were not the only reasons for this failure…they were more a result of personal faults and a lack of trust, honesty, and understanding among and between American civilian leaders and their military counterparts.” Furthermore, neither the U.S. military commanders nor the nation’s civilian leaders had an adequate understanding or respect for their adversary, an expertly organized and dedicated force that pursued its clear goals through subterfuge and strategy. The author uses firsthand accounts from both sides to analyze the conflict from its beginnings in 1950s Cold War politics to the fall of Saigon in 1975. He also critiques the (incorrect) lessons that American leaders took from the Vietnam War and how these have been applied to the country’s subsequent conflicts. Rothmann writes in an accessible prose that reads mostly as general history (with a few of his own reflections and opinions scattered throughout): “I missed much of the sixties in America….My wife had been closer to it. She related that she had a tough time getting a place to stay while I was in Vietnam. No one in her hometown in New Jersey would rent a place for her to stay since she was a soldier’s wife whose husband was away at war.” At nearly 700 pages, this comprehensive, rigorous volume spreads the blame around fairly evenly and justifiably. In the author’s view, there’s no one-sentence explanation for America’s loss in Vietnam. He’s here to lead readers unflinchingly into the nuances.

A thought-provoking, well-researched diagnosis of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: April 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-16549-2

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Rothmann Consulting, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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