Unless and until we understand General William Westmoreland, we will never understand what happened to us in Vietnam, or why. An Eagle Scout at fifteen, First Captain of his West Point class, Westmoreland fought in World War II and Korea, rising rapidly to command the 101st Airborne Division and become Superintendent at West Point, then was chosen to lead the war effort in Vietnam.
That turned out to be a disaster. He failed to understand a complex war, choosing a flawed strategy, sticking to it in the face of all opposition, and misrepresenting the results when truth mattered most. In so doing he squandered four years of support by Congress, much of the media, and the American people. The tragedy of William Westmoreland provides lessons not just for Vietnam, but for America’s future military and political leadership. Lewis Sorley’s definitive portrait is essential reading.