"Besides offering the reflections of the brass on a war past, this illuminating book exposes attitudes that promise to endure through wars to come." Saturday Review
The War Managersby Douglas Kinnard
Long considered a classic for its enlightening analysis of what went wrong in Vietnam, this frank assessment of the American involvement in the war comes straight from the U.S. Army generals responsible for its conduct in the field. First published in 1977 to great acclaim, the painful indictment of both the military and civilian policy makers serves as a useful
Long considered a classic for its enlightening analysis of what went wrong in Vietnam, this frank assessment of the American involvement in the war comes straight from the U.S. Army generals responsible for its conduct in the field. First published in 1977 to great acclaim, the painful indictment of both the military and civilian policy makers serves as a useful guide on how to avoid similar disasters in today's conflicts. The author, an American general who was chief of staff of the most important field command in Vietnam before his retirement in 1970, sent an extensive questionnaire to 173 other generals in 1974, seeking their views on the war and guaranteeing anonymity. Nearly 70% responded, with many adding pages of comments about such sensitive subjects as leadership and integrity. General Kinnard then interviewed twenty of the respondents and supplemented their input with research of Army documents. What emerges from his analysis of the generals' responses is a uniquely fascinating and penetrating look at the war, focusing on such central issues as the competence of American and Vietnamese troops, the clarity of U.S. objectives, the influence of body counts, and much more.
- Naval Institute Press
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- Edition description:
- New Edition
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Meet the Author
Douglas Kinnard, a 1944 graduate of West Point, served in combat in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, retiring as a brigadier general. After receiving a Ph.D. from Princeton, he taught at the University of Vermont, at which he is now professor emeritus of political science. Subsequently, he was on the faculty of the Naval War College and the National Defense University. Now a resident of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, he is the author of seven books.
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As a former army officer who entered active duty just after the Vietnam War ended, The War Managers simply is a "must read" for those interested in understanding the outlook and opinions of the senior American military leadership throughout the American involvement in Vietnam. What especially in retrospect is most striking is that General Kinnard gathered his data in 1973/74 -- AFTER the American military involvement in Vietnam essentially had ended, but BEFORE 1975, when the North Vietnamese overran the South Vietnamese, thus adding a poignant exclamation point to the futility of the American effort in Southeast Asia. General Kinnard writes with a flawless style, and his crisp analysis of the opinions of his fellow generals is superb -- punctuated as it is with often brutally blunt comments by American general officers about policies which they thought were folly, if not unavoidably self-defeating. Nor are the opinions of those senior military officers towards the media and certain civilian authorities any less candid and informative. Given that when the data was gathered and the analyses made, it appeared as if the South Vietnamese government (with the aid of continued logistical support, when necessary, American airpower) might survive as an independent entity, General Kinnard's analysis has that much more of a "crystal ball" aura to it as his predictions for events in Vietnam and for future decades of U.S. foreign policy (and the use of American military force as a vital element of that policy) is eerily prescient. Sadly, one can read this book, absorp its lessons, apply them to Iraq and Afghanistan, and (for different reasons, as those two conflicts are quite different in nature) come away quite unsettled by US diplomatic and military policy in each of those two areas of conflict. If I have one regret "The War Managers," it is only that I wish it were longer (it is under 200 pages) because I found it to be so informative and one of the great insights into the psychology of the commanders whom this nation sends to fight its wars. Perhaps the best endorsement I can give is to note that after reading this excellent and compelling work, I sent copies to a half dozen friends who had commanded major units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and each thought that this book was a provocative and sobering read.