In This Review

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam
By Lewis Sorley
Harcourt Brace, 1999, 528 pp
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For many Americans, Vietnam looms in the collective memory rather as World War I does for Europeans -- an unrelieved story of stupidity and misery, blood and treasure expended for no good purpose. Sorley, the author of a solid if somewhat hagiographic biography of Vietnam War general Creighton Abrams, believes otherwise. He argues that the replacement of General William Westmoreland by Abrams in 1968 led to the adoption of a more successful strategy in Vietnam, actually leading to real progress in the war. This case may be overstated, but it is forcefully and convincingly argued. As such, it may be more troubling to the American conscience than the easier belief that the war was simply unwinnable from the outset. Whether or not one agrees with the author's conclusions, he has written a provocative and important contribution to the history of the Vietnam War.