Academic journal article Military Review

Zumwalt: The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr

Academic journal article Military Review

Zumwalt: The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr

Article excerpt

ZUMWALT: The Life and Times of Admiral Elmo Russell "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr.

Larry Berman, HarperCollins, New York 2012, 528 pages, $29.99

LARRY BERMAN'S BIOGRAPHY of Adm. "Bud" Zumwalt is important to more than just naval audiences. Anyone interested in the meaning of the often-used term "transformational leadership" will profit from the book. For those unfamiliar with Zumwalt, he instigated a virtual "cultural revolution" in the U.S. Navy as the chief of naval operations in the early 1970s. Before that, he served as the commander of U.S. naval forces in Vietnam during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Either of these major "jobs" makes him a person of interest as a historical figure and as a role model for those studying leadership at the highest levels. Zumwalt's life was filled with triumph and tragedy.

The most important chapters are those concerning Zumwalt's time in Vietnam and his tenure as chief of naval operations. Berman examines Zumwalt's decision to use Agent Orange in the Mekong Delta to aid his river assault boat crews in interdicting the flow of munitions to the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. (Zumwalt's son, Elmo III, who served in the campaign, contracted cancer attributable to the toxins and later died from complications.) Zumwalt never changed his mind about the rightness of his decision to use Agent Orange, given the circumstances of the war at the time, but he devoted much of the rest of his life helping veterans exposed to the deadly chemical. The book's high point is the discussion of Zumwalt's ability to bring a racist, sexist, and conservative naval officer corps into the 20th century. …

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