MANY REASONS WHY: The American Involvement in Vietnam by Michael & Anthony Moncrieff Charlton

MANY REASONS WHY: The American Involvement in Vietnam

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Now that most of the major figures in the dismal Vietnam episode have written their memoirs and/or spoken their piece to countless researchers, it is not surprising that this series of interviews with ""the men who made or largely shaped the crucial decisions"" comes across like a collation of familiar stories. Originally presented on BBC radio in 1977--and buttressed by some additional interviews--the book follows a chronological order, beginning with American support for Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese and U.S. opposition to French re-colonization after World War II. There follows the tragic series of events from the shift in U.S. support to the French--within the context of the Marshall Plan and the Cold War--to the ""fall"" of Saigon in 1975. Among the interviewees are Archimedes Patti, the OSS agent who contacted Ho in 1945, and--predominating--the usual Big Names: Rusk, Ball, Fulbright, Taylor, Hilsman, W. W. Rostow, W. Bundy, Westmoreland, etc. (but not Kissinger, Nixon, MacNamara). These veterans still can't agree on the Diem assassination or whether the Gulf of Tonkin ""incident"" was planned or a hoax or genuine--George Ball thinks the basic resolution was written beforehand, Fulbright thinks the attack was a lie, and Bundy claims it was all truth and coincidence. Westmoreland delivers his lines on how the politicians lost the war, while guerrilla-warfare guru Sir Robert Thompson does likewise on how the Pentagon and the politicians messed up. ""Westy"" also claims that the press subverted the war effort, putting CBS V.P. William Small on the defensive, which turns the whole relationship around. Giving the war-makers another forum to air their self-justification is unnecessary, and sprinkling in a few anti-war types for flavoring is patronizing.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1978
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux