NOBODY WANTED WAR: Misperception in Vietnam and Other Wars by Ralph K. White

NOBODY WANTED WAR: Misperception in Vietnam and Other Wars

KIRKUS REVIEW

Vietnam as a case study of ""the psychological forces and rigidities that make any war possible""... a tricky topic, but the author generally conquers reductive temptations. He does conclude that the relevant processes are similar in different cultures, and that nationalism is a common factor in warped cognition. South Vietnamese attitudes toward the American presence; Communists' view of the war; reactions to bombing of the North; militant Americans' perception of the conflict; the validity of the domino theory--these are some of the questions raised, and White meets them by discussing political issues at length, as well as the psychology of ""self-image,"" and ""enemy-image,"" and the fallacy of attributing war to simple ""aggressive"" instinct. Much of the psychological discussion is elementary (intolerance of ambiguity, diabolism, and ""refracting-lenses"" as causes of misperception); some of his analogies are absurd (Austria 1914-North Vietnam 1958). Yet the book offers a challenge to every position, and a greater understanding of counter-positions. It will help to further the ""tough-minded empathy"" White recommends.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1968
Publisher: Doubleday