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From Barnes & NobleWar Without End A few years ago Robert McNamara offered his apologia to the nation in In Retrospect, his memoir of the Vietnam War, which was critical of U.S. administration policy and weakness. That was a good start to explaining how the war became such a political mess and military blunder. But it only examined one side of the conflict.
Now, in Argument Without End, McNamara brings the Vietnamese into the discussion. In a historic gathering of experts and key players, he and 30 American scholars, former U.S. government officials, and Vietnamese military men, journalists, and academics come together to hash out what led to the war and what made it so intractably long.
Made up largely of transcripts from conversations and interviews with the book's contributors, Argument Without End offers analysis that will no doubt fuel academic and Beltway debate. Most striking is the group's conclusion that the U.S. could never have won the war.
That conclusion, in and of itself, is not wholly new. The war's detractors have been saying it for decades, and even some who were powerful supporters have since reconsidered the wisdom of sending hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers to fight. But never has a group as central to the conflict as this applied its knowledge to reach a sad conclusion that, perhaps, only hindsight allows.