Why Vietnam Matters: An Eyewitness Account of Lessons Not Learned

Naval Institute Press
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In The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam described Rufus Phillips as a man one could trust telling President Kennedy during the Vietnam War about the failures of the Strategic Hamlet Program, 'in itself a remarkable moment in the American bureaucracy, a moment of intellectual honesty.' With that same honesty, Phillips gives an extraordinary inside history of the most critical years of American involvement in Vietnam, from 1954 to 1968, and explains why it still matters. Describing what went right and then wrong, he argues that the United States missed an opportunity to help the South Vietnamese develop a political cause as compelling as that of the Communists by following a big war strategy based on World War II perceptions. This led American policy makers to mistaken assumptions that they could win the war themselves and give the country back to the Vietnamese. Documenting the story from his own private files as well as from the historical record, the former CIA officer paints striking portraits of such key figures as John F. Kennedy, Maxwell Taylor, Robert McNamara, Henry Cabot Lodge, Hubert Humphrey, and Ngo Dinh Diem, among others with whom he dealt.

Phillips details how the legendary Edward G. Lansdale helped the South Vietnamese gain and consolidate their independence between 1954 and 1956, and how this later changed to a reliance on American conventional warfare with its highly destructive firepower. He reasons that our failure to understand the Communists, our South Vietnamese allies, or even ourselves took us down the wrong road. In summing up U.S. errors in Vietnam, Phillips draws parallels with the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and suggests changes in the U.S. approach. Known for his intellectual integrity and firsthand, long-term knowledge of what went on in Vietnam, the author offers lessons for today in this trenchant account.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Naval Institute Press
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Published on
Dec 4, 2013
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781612515625
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Vietnam War
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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More than 8.7 million Americans reported for military duty in Southeast Asia, but only a select few wore the Green Beret, the distinctive symbol of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Operating out of small outposts in some of the worlds most rugged terrain, these elite soldiers played a crucial role during the protracted conflict.

Special Forces at War: an Illustrated History, Southeast Asia 1957-1975 by wartime veteran and military historian Shelby l. Stanton comprises ten chapters, chronologically arranged, that show Special Forces' activity from the first deployments of Green Berets into battle, through their ever-expanding instruction and training, wartime advisory, border surveillance, strike force, and special operations roles. No matter what the task, the Special Forces served with valor and dedication.

This photographic history is unprecedented in scope. Featuring rare and unpublished images, it presents an exclusive, insider view of covert activities such as Project Delta, whose Special Forces-trained Vietnamese commandos, nicknamed "road-runners," posed as North Vietnamese Army or Viet Cong troops behind communist lines. It depicts Special Forces' camps before, during, and after enemy assaults. It features an array of lethal weapons used by resourceful Green Berets fighting to preserve their remote outposts, as well as allied and enemy documents and propaganda. From ordinary camp life to special missions, no aspect of Special Forces activities during the Second Indochina War has been overlooked. Stanton knows his subject first hand.

During six years of active duty as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army, he served as a paratrooper platoon leader, an airborne ranger advisor to the Royal Thai Army Special Warfare Center, and a Special Forces long-range reconnaissance team commander in Southeast Asia before being wounded in combat in Nam Yu, LaosThrough his contacts with Special Forces veterans and his own research, Stanton has assembled hundreds of photographs, details.
During the Vietnam War, the U.S. Army deployed electronic sensors along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, Cambodia, North Vietnam, and South Vietnam in order to detect and track troop and vehicle movements. At approximately 8,100 miles in length, monitoring this sophisticated logistics network_consisting of roads, trails, vehicle parks, petroleum pipelines, and storage areas_was no mean task. Since the work was classified as 'Secret' until only recently, a comprehensive story of the electronic sensors used in Southeast Asia has never been completely told. Wiring Vietnam: The Electronic Wall relates the history of the electronic detection system that was deployed during the Vietnam War. Author Anthony Tambini covers everything from the sensors used to detect seismic signals from nearby troop and vehicle movements to audio sensors that were deployed to pick up conversations of troops as well as traffic noise of vehicles to engine ignition detectors. Beginning with the conception, development, and implementation of these sensors, Tambini then relates how, ultimately, the various signals the sensors collected were transmitted to orbiting aircraft that would process and retransmit the signals onward to a base in Thailand. There the data underwent further analysis for possible targets that could be attacked from the air. Anthony Tambini, a member of the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Ubon, Thailand in the late 1960s, was part of an organization that dropped these sensors. His firsthand perspective, along with rarely seen photographs of the actual sensors used, will provide those interested in the Vietnam War and modern warfare with a clear picture of an undocumented side of history.
David Halberstam’s masterpiece, the defining history of the making of the Vietnam tragedy, with a new Foreword by Senator John McCain.

"A rich, entertaining, and profound reading experience.”—The New York Times

Using portraits of America’ s flawed policy makers and accounts of the forces that drove them, The Best and the Brightest reckons magnificently with the most important abiding question of our country’ s recent history: Why did America become mired in Vietnam, and why did we lose? As the definitive single-volume answer to that question, this enthralling book has never been superseded. It is an American classic.

Praise for The Best and the Brightest

“The most comprehensive saga of how America became involved in Vietnam. . . . It is also the Iliad of the American empire and the Odyssey of this nation’s search for its idealistic soul. The Best and the Brightest is almost like watching an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.”—The Boston Globe

“Deeply moving . . . We cannot help but feel the compelling power of this narrative. . . . Dramatic and tragic, a chain of events overwhelming in their force, a distant war embodying illusions and myths, terror and violence, confusions and courage, blindness, pride, and arrogance.”—Los Angeles Times

“A fascinating tale of folly and self-deception . . . [An] absorbing, detailed, and devastatingly caustic tale of Washington in the days of the Caesars.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Seductively readable . . . It is a staggeringly ambitious undertaking that is fully matched by Halberstam’s performance. . . . This is in all ways an admirable and necessary book.”—Newsweek

“A story every American should read.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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