Academic journal article Military Review

TRIUMPH FORSAKEN: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965

Academic journal article Military Review

TRIUMPH FORSAKEN: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965

Article excerpt

TRIUMPH FORSAKEN: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Mark Moyar, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006, $32.00.

We bring to history the preconceptions of our personalities and our age. Conceptions of the past are far from stable; the urgencies of the present perennially revise diem. Mark Moyar has written an ambitious book in which he tries to rewrite the history of the Vietnam War. In this version, the war was "a noble but improperly executed enterprise."

The only difference between Moyar's political-military history and a historical novel is that Moyar cites his sources. Unfortunately, his notes do not support his arguments. His thesis, that the U.S. failed to pursue its war in Vietnam vigorously enough to achieve victory, does not explain the way critical events unfolded.

Moyar presents a chronological narration of events, reinterprets each significant event from his revisionist viewpoint, and explains why the orthodox interpretation is wrong. He declares that South Vietnam was on its way to victory when the Army generals assassinated President Ngo Dinh Diem in November 1963 and overthrew his government. Moyar's meticulous reconstruction of South Vietnam's army operations until then seems to favor his viewpoint. However, to reach this conclusion, he ignores the wider context of the war and North Vietnam's plans to achieve eventual total victory. …

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