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American Tragedy: Terrific Entry In Debate Over Responsibily

Uploaded by Quest4Glory on Jun 19, 2005

In an interesting, provocative, well-written and often very surprising work of careful scholarship, author David Kaiser has raised the level of intellectual discussion regarding the origins and prosecution of the war in Vietnam. Using a range of new archival materials only now available, he carefully constructs an intriguing and disturbing portrait of individuals out of control. In this sense this book is a worthy companion piece to David Halberstam's memorable book, "The Best And The Brightest", in the fact that it argues that it was a number of specific individuals with their own personal credos, private agendas, and belief systems that led to the deepening involvement in Southeast Asian affairs. However, this is not to suggest that Professor Kaiser either agrees with Halberstam's thesis or to argue that he has nothing new or worthwhile to reveal. Yet there are undeniable threads of similarity running through both works. Most interesting is Kaiser's contention that it was the unique and singular "can-do" Yankee spirit and aggressive attitude of the World War Two generation that directly led to the decisions to interfere in the internal policies of Vietnam.

Unlike previous tomes such as Halberstam's as well as Stanley Karnow's excellent book, "Vietnam", that portrayed President Eisenhower's policies of global containment of communism as extremely cautious and careful, Kaiser presents a mass of documentary evidence that reveals that it was precisely those decisions and policy predispositions established by Eisenhower, including a willingness to use nuclear weapons tactically, that later led to the fateful moves toward greater involvement by Lyndon Johnson. Even more interesting, Kaiser presents evidence by way of policy changes made By President Kennedy illustrating his own deep concern and reticence regarding involvement in the former French Indochina. In fact, the author shows that for the three years of his administration, Kennedy purposefully denied repeated attempts by both his senior advisors and the military to significantly widen our action in Vietnam. According to Kaiser, while JFK did allow escalation by way of many more military advisors, he repeatedly quite specifically denied, both verbally and by way of documented minutes to meetings with advisors, authorization to escalate by introducing direct combat involvement.

However, the author argues that even Kennedy was seriously misled and misserved as to the status of ongoing efforts by deliberate deception on the part of that great national hero and contemporary revisionist historian, Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense in Kennedy's...

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Uploaded by:   Quest4Glory

Date:   06/19/2005

Category:   Literature

Length:   5 pages (1,030 words)

Views:   4384

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