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Hardcover JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power Book

ISBN: 0446516783

ISBN13: 9780446516785

JFK and Vietnam: Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power

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Book Overview

The gift of time may be measured by increment and achievement. Rarely is an historian allowed to reflect upon their own works from the vantage point of 25 years beyond the initial publication. This... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Historical background for the Vietnam war

Most of us have a vague idea that the Vietnam war grew gradually until 1965, when the main force of US action began. Vietnam is an important series of events in American history. An entire generation of Americans were deeply shaped by what happened during that war, the political side effects of the war shaped the resurgence of the Republican party in the 1970s and 1980s, and there are some who wonder if the deaths of President Kennedy and other such events were not related to the war. Newman's book details 2 strains in the Kennedy administration. One was President Kennedy's, who was seeking to draw down the number and strength of US advisers serving in Vietnam. The other strain had leadership from Vice President Johnson, and sought to escalate US military intervention. This book provides careful, well thought out analysis of both the pro and anti interventionist groups, and details the strengths and weaknesses both sides brought to the table, as well as the personalities in each group. Newman is methodical and does not draw out conclusions that he cannot sustain by factual information. This book provides much needed information and details about a segment of American history that has shaped current events, but about which most of us don't know enough. It is a good, well done, and superbly interesting book.

Extraordinary book, outstanding research

This book tackles an oft debated subject,namely just what were the intentions of John F. Kennedy's Vietnam policy? Those close to him such as Dave Powers and Kenneth O'Donnell stated it was his intention to withdraw from Vietnam after the 1964 election. However, the president had also given a number of hawkish speeches on the subject which left little doubt he intended to escalate American involvment if necessary. To me that often seemed the last word on the subject. Why would the president make hawkish statements on Vietnam if he was secretly planning to withdraw? Of course, we might well ask why LBJ made dovish statements on the war when in fact he intended to escalate it after the 1964 election? This book (which I believe is the outgrowth of the author's Ph.d. dissertation) provides fresh evidence that Kennedy never intended to send troops into a combat role in Southeast Asia. Newman's research benefited from a raft of documentation which was declassified in the 1990's regarding JFK's Vietnam policy. Readers will learn the details of the military's pressure for American troops in a combat role as early as 1961. The record shows JFK resisted that. His strategy for Vietnam was really a counter-insurgency strategy with American troops acting as trainers and supporters of the South Vietnamese. As the narrative develops based on now declassified national security meetings as well as the recollections of participants a picture is drawn of a president who is in sharp disagreement not only with the military but with his own cabinet. The president sends three fact finding missions to South Vietnam; each returns stating the need for an immediate full fledged combat role for the USA to save Southeast Asia. Each time JFK rejects their advice. Each mission stressed the importance of escalating the conflict and that such escalation was needed without delay or Vietnam would fall; and each time JFK says no. Thus, one must view the Kennedy policy in sharp divergence from the eventual Johnson policy of sending combat troops. Kennedy's policy seems to have been dogged from the beginning by a military which essentially had no sympathy for his strategy of counter-insurgency. This book is subtitled "Deception, Intrigue, and the Struggle for Power". Readers will find it more than apt. The author shows how military intelligence analysts in the field in 1961 soon discovered three disturbing things about the situation: 1) The Vietnamese army was in very poor shape with a dreadful desertion rate 2) The Viet Cong were infiltrating the south at an alarming rate, mostly through Laos 3) the Viet Cong were also winning more and more adherents in the south. Newman carefully traces the efforts of General Harkins (our military commander at the time) to suppress the true nature of the struggle in Vietnam. Newman documents the deception of JFK and adds undeniable evidence of a very sensational nature: Vice President Johnson is being given the straight scoop on the dismal stat


As one who has both read Newman's book and as one who served in Vietnam myself, (1970) I can only say I feel a deep sense of betrayal by my own Government, that I have served so well in two wars in a military capacity and as a Civil Servant in a civilian capacity. The document's that Newman publishes in his book were classified "Top Secret" at the time of Kennedy's Assassination. Thanks to the "Freedom of Information" act, that is no longer the case and we can now see the behind the scenes moves that led the US deeper and deeper into Vietnam. We can also see Kennedy's efforts to reverse course before it became too late.My grandmother who is now dead and millions of other Americans never saw JFK's NSAM - 263 classified Top Secret. Nor did I. That NSAM was quietly shelved by Lyndon Johnson two days after Kennedy's Assassination and his own NSAM implimented. NSAM - 273 freezing everyone in place. Today, thanks to Newman's book we can now see who was the real culprit responsible for America's slide into Vietnam. And it certainly wasn't that awful Roman Catholic President (in the eyes of anti-Kennedy bigots) in the White House, John F. Kennedy.Instead the REAL culprit was Lyndon Baines Johnson and THAT is how History will eventually record it. Hats off to John M. Newman for bringing these Document's into public view for future generations to "learn" from. That is IF, people are now willing to learn.William P. UrbanSgt US ArmyPO2 US Navy

The Question was: Who Was in Charge?

A book called Rethinking Camelot by Noam Chomsky introduced me to the importance of this book. While the United States had suffered a number of defeats in countries in which we had chosen not to fight (China being gigantic compared to France), most of the people involved in maintaining American policy on Vietnam had accepted the idea that a way could be found to win in Vietnam. John M. Newman considered the importance of that idea "like going to church" for the people whose actions would be based entirely on the strength of such convictions. My father (who was not mentioned in the book being reviewed) was a minister who had been ordained during World War II, possibly a good excuse for not actually fighting in that war, but not good enough to convince me that God would always give us perpetual peace out of the goodness of His heart for having saved the world from the domination of anyone who actually wanted to rule here. Chomsky's book was based on the premise that American policy was the desire to win in Vietnam, an aim which Kennedy couldn't have deserted until this country had extracted the last full measure of devotion from everyone concerned. In the present, it should be much easier to admit the tendency to waffle, as all things have been twisted into a psychotic multiplicity in which our deepest desires take part in the constant attack on the facts. As much as those like Chomsky, who believe that Americans should maintain a certain level of belief in policy, might differ, I am inclined to think that some real dirt can be dug up on this issue, and this book shows what the official record looks like when its secrecy has been stripped away.
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