In 2014, Daddis, a U.S. Army veteran, published a well-regarded book on General William Westmoreland’s period of command during the Vietnam War, which spanned from 1964 to 1968 and ended when he was replaced by General Creighton Abrams. The conventional wisdom holds that Abrams developed a more credible strategy that was showing results, until it was undermined by Congress, which failed to back the military, and the press, which stoked public opposition to the war. In his latest book, Daddis is having none of this. He argues that the changes Abrams made were less significant than many assumed, and he shows that the narrative of military victory snatched away by Congress and antiwar sentiment misses a vital point. The real problem had less to do with U.S. military strategy than with the South Vietnamese government’s failure to develop an authentic national identity that could sustain it through the next stage of what had already been a long civil war.
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