WESTMORELAND by Samuel Zaffiri

WESTMORELAND

A Biography of General William C. Westmoreland

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A biography of the military commander who, in this sound and balanced portrayal, was bound by his training and convictions to win an unwinnable war, ultimately the costliest in US history. Zaffiri (Hamburger Hill, not reviewed), a Vietnam veteran, relates the life of a remarkable general whose career was shattered by his involvement in the Vietnam War. The book opens with perhaps the high point of Westmoreland's professional life: a speech before a joint session of Congress, an honor reserved previously for the likes of Pershing, Eisenhower, and MacArthur. As the applause and adulation fade away, the author dissolves to the general's ancestry and early life. Coming from a southern military family, he forsook the family tradition of attendance at The Citadel to go to West Point. He demonstrated courage and leadership during WW II in North Africa and elsewhere, becoming a hero and stepping on the Army's fast track. He was frustrated by the political nature of the Korean War, in which he also served. Coming to the Pentagon, he became a protÇgÇ of Maxwell Taylor, later JFK's military advisor. This ultimately led to his tenure as commander of MAC-V (Military Assistance Command--Vietnam). The Tet offensive, though in truth a disaster for the Communists, convinced both Congress and the American public that Westmoreland had deceived them about possibilities for success and broke the resolve of the US to prosecute the war. Although he still achieved his long-held dream of becoming Army chief of staff, he would live out his life in the shadow of perceived failure. A gubernatorial run in his native South Carolina and his famous libel suit against CBS round out the story. Based on meticulous research and interviews with many key figures (including Westmoreland himself), the book offers a fair hearing for a man who has been alternately overlooked and maligned by history.

Pub Date: July 26th, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-11179-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994




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