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Hardcover Westmoreland: A Biography of General William C. Westmoreland Book

ISBN: 0688111793

ISBN13: 9780688111793

Westmoreland: A Biography of General William C. Westmoreland

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL WILLIAM C. WESTMORELAND. As commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, General William C. Westmoreland was point man for an increasingly unpopular war and eventually was cast as the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

3 ratings

Westy's warriors

like many others, i served with this man who we felt was a true warrior. his leadership was based on two words,"follow me." i've not finished the book yet, but so far find it is written objectively. thankfully, politics can alter history, but it can't alter memory.

A sympathetic portrait of a noble warrior

It is certainly true as the Kirkus Reviews blurb on the back cover notes that William Westmoreland has been "alternately overlooked and maligned by history." The former is inexplicable and the latter - sad. It is a shame that this fine book is not in print. As far as I know, this is the only full biography of Westmoreland and it deserves a wide audience. While sympathetic, it is not hagiographic. While not entirely persuasive, Westmoreland's defense of his conduct of the war is strong and has been too easily dismissed by some - such as Lewis Sorley in "A Better War" (though, nonethless, another fine book). What Zaffiri clarifies is that the strategy of attrition was not strictly Westmoreland's. At the Honolulu Conference in February 1966, Westmoreland received a memorandum drafted by McNamara and Rusk which explicitly authorized him to conduct a war of attrition: "... attrit by year's end, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces at a rate as high as their capability to put men in the field." McNamara and McNaughton devised this strategy and in the subsequent 3 years never seriously sought to modify or scrap it. The infamous "body count" was devised by the whiz-kid McNamara who believed he'd devised a mathematical formula for "winning" the war. In fact, the Johnson Administration never sought to "win" the war per se, but to prevent the North from winning. They erroneously believed that they could persuade the North, through carrot and stick, to give up their dream of a united Vietnam. It was Washington that would not permit an effective bombing campaign against the North. It was Washington that would not allow an invasion of Cambodia and Laos to destroy the Communist sanctuaries after Tet '68 when enough troops were available to do so. Westmoreland was repeatedly turned down when he requested permission to invade these base camps. As Westmoreland says in his autobiography: "I elected to fight a so-called big-unit war not because of any Napoleonic impluse to maneuver units and hark to the sound of the cannon but because of the basic fact that the enmy had committed big units and I ignored them at my peril. The big-unit war was in any case only a first step. As a former member of my staff in the Pentagon, Lt. Gen. Richard G. Stilwell, wrote later, in likening the insurgency to a boulder, a sledge first has to break the boulder into large fragments; groups of workers can then attack the fragments with spalling tools; then individuals pound the chips with tap hammers until they are reduced to powder and the boulder ceases to exist. In the early months of American involvement it was risky, even perilous, in regions where the enemy's big units might be met, to commit troops in less than battalion strength, and even then at least a brigade had to be available in case of trouble. After our campaigns of 1966 and 1967 and after the enemy had expended his resources in a nationwide offensive in early 1968, I could commit companies

Good book

I think it was a fair and accurate account considering what I have read to compare it with (quite alot actually). The other theories generally in opposition to it, falter significantly at some point when contrasted to it. He was without a doubt a brilliant and competant strategist and tactician, and is unfortunately underrated. He should have walked on Johnson like McArthur did on Truman. Loyalty to the Constitution was the priority over the loyalty to the adminisration.
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