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Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972 (Modern Southeast Asia Series)

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During the four years General Creighton W. Abrams was commander in Vietnam, he and his staff made more than 455 tape recordings of briefings and meetings. In 1994, with government approval, Lewis Sorley began transcribing and analyzing the tapes. Sorley’s laborious, time-consuming effort has produced a picture of the senior U.S. commander in Vietnam and his associates working to prosecute a complex and challenging military campaign in an equally complex and difficult political context. The concept of the nature of the war and the way it was conducted changed during Abrams’s command. The progressive buildup of U.S. forces was reversed, and Abrams became responsible for turning the war back to the South Vietnamese. The edited transcriptions in this volume clearly reflect those changes in policy and strategy. They include briefings called the Weekly Intelligence Estimate Updates as well as meetings with such visitors as the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other high-ranking officials. In Vietnam Chronicles we see, for the first time, the difficult task that Creighton Abrams accomplished with tact and skill.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780896725331
  • Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Series: Modern Southeast Asia Series
  • Pages: 917
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Sorley
Lewis Sorley

Lewis Sorley is a third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy who also holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. He served in Vietnam, and in the Pentagon in the offices of Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland. He also taught at West Point and the Army War College. He is the author of five highly-regarded works of military history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2004

    One of best military histories ever written

    I'm now reading the book a second time, to pick up the nuggests I missed the first go-around. General Abrams' spontaneous comments and observations reflect the intellect of one of our nation's most effective military leaders. This is on a par with Grant's memoirs. Sorley's contribution, other than transcribing the tapes by hand, is subtle but phenomenal. He guides the reader through the excerpts almost invisibly, explaining the military and political context so that the passages make sense in light of what was happening at the time. This is not a book for beginners, although just reading what General Abrams has to say is certainly entertaining. A profane man, perhaps, but never vulgar or cruel. Abrams leaves no doubt about his likes and dislikes, the hallmark of a sublimely self-confident man and warrior. We may never see his equal. Readers who follow current events in Iraq cannot help asking themselves, 'What would Abrams do?'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2004

    The Rarest of Insights

    For insights into the mind of a commander, there is no match for this book anywhere in the shelves and shelves of military historiography. Sorely (a biographer of General Creighton Abrams, the commander at that time) took years to mine a mountain of recordings to find and extract the material he uses to portray the last years of the Vietnam War as seen through the remarks of General Abrams. Just getting the entire body of taped comments declassified was no small undertaking; persevering through endless hours to glean the essence of those recordings was a task of daunting proportions; turning it all into a product of literary excellence defies this reviewer's powers of description. The result is one of the rarest of works, a refernce volume without peer. No one will ever again be able to write credibly about the Vietnam War without constant and close consultation with it. For the serious student and any library worth its salt, a must-have book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2004

    Invaluable Work

    Vietnam Chronicles, the Abrams Tapes, 1968-72 may well be the best book yet done on the Vietnam War. Not only does it provide enormous insights into how key decisions were made but it also lays out in clear terms all the parameters on which they were great detail and in the words of the decisionmakers. Dr. Sorley has done an invaluable service to those that treasure our nation's military history as well to students of leadership.

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