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Belated book reviews

Was going to review these over the weekend but fell prey to sloth and indolence, so...

Lewis Sorley's A Better War focuses on the Vietnam War after the 1968 Tet offensive, and the changes in the war wrought by General Creighton Abrams. Abrams succeeded the...inept William Westmoreland in command of American forces in South Vietnam and managed to actually defeat the Communist forces both in the conventional battles and the more important counterinsurgency campaign. Sorely is unsparing in his criticism of Westmoreland and Robert Komer,and is dispassionate in his description of how the antiwar movement in the US was deliberately manipulated by the North Vietnamese. Didn't learn anything new from this book myself, but it does make a good complement to Andrew Wiest's book on the ARVN, reviewed here previously.

On the other hand, Bing West's The Strongest Tribe did point out a few things I hadn't been aware of concerning the recent unpleasantness in Iraq. West, unlike other would-be historians of the Iraq War, has skin in the game (his son is an officer in the Marines) but doesn't allow this to keep him from an even-handed assessment of the mistakes, political asshattery, and downright retarded things done by President Bush, the Congressional Democrats, and the Iraqis themselves on the way to the Surge and the victory so many people claimed wasn't possible. I daresay you'll find things to piss you off in here regardless of your political sympathies. Recommended.

The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons is that rare sequel that is actually better than the original. This is saying something, since the original was nominated for a Hugo, but imao is definitely true. All the loose ends are tied up quite nicely, and if there are a few dei ex machinae involved, you can see where they came from and know that the author didn't just pull them out of his butt. Highly recommended.



( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
A Better War
I agree with the assesment of Westmorland/ Abrams.

In Westmorlands defence I would like to point out 3 advantages Abrams had.

1.) Most of his term he didnt have LBJ sitting in the white house telling him where to bomb - every night
2.) He didnt have Mcnamera as Sec of defense
3.) He had Westmorlands mistakes to study.

Jul. 30th, 2009 12:23 pm (UTC)
Re: A Better War
These things are all true, but as Sorley points out, Nixon's White House was just as prone to micromanagement (in some ways) as LBJ's. I was not pleased to learn this. :(
Jul. 30th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
Strongest Tribe
What were some of the mistakes of Bush, as seen by West?
Jul. 30th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Re: Strongest Tribe
The two biggest ones, in West's opinion, were breaking up the Iraqi Army and trying to keep the number of troops to a minimum during the invasion and up to the Surge.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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