A BETTER WAR by Lewis Sorley


The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
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A fawning paean to General Creighton Abrams, Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, and former CIA chief William Colby and their ’stewardship” of the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1975. The stab-in-the-back theory is alive and well in Sorley’s (Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times, 1992, etc.) heavily footnoted but biased and flawed analysis of the post-1968 Vietnam War. Sorley’s heroes are Abrams, Bunker, Colby, and others who worked to turn the war over to the South Vietnamese. His villains are those he claims subverted that effort: Congress (especially Ted Kennedy), the antiwar movement (especially Jane Fonda), and the American media. In making this weak argument, Sorley lionizes virtually every action taken by his heroes and demonizes the actions of those he considers villains. His sections on Congress, the antiwar movement, and the media are brief, facile, and one-sided. His analyses of Abrams, Bunker, et al., are long, worshipful, and one-sided. Sorley contends that by late 1970 the Americans and South Vietnamese had won the war, a victory snatched away by a defeatist Congress and abetted by the antiwar movement and the media, particularly Walter Cronkite. In focusing on the war’s last eight years, Sorley sets out to right a wrong: “Most of the better-known treatments of the Vietnam War,” he says, “as a whole have given relatively little consideration to these later years.” But he sabotages his own argument by providing almost no background on the war, even though the US became involved in the area in 1950. He assesses the post-1968 period virtually in a vacuum. And what came before had a great deal to do with how the war was prosecuted afterward, including the actions of those in Congress, the antiwar movement, and the media. A partisan, wholly unconvincing attempt to explain the Communist victory in Vietnam. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen; 5 maps)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-100266-5
Page count: 528pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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