Lyndon Johnson's War: The Road to Stalemate in Vietnam

Larry Berman, Author W. W. Norton & Company $18.95 (254p) ISBN 978-0-393-02636-8
In a previous volume, Planning a Tragedy , Berman focused on President Johnson's 1965 decision to Americanize the war in Vietnam. In this stunning sequel, he reveals how the president and his advisers oversaw the escalation and had to adjust their varying perceptions of the failure of military policy in Vietnam. Berman relates how intelligence from the field was manipulated to present a picture of success, how LBJ was nearly forced into accepting population bombing and how his fragile political consensus for building a Great Society at home while ``defending freedom'' in Vietnam collapsed, leading him to take the first step to de-escalate the conflict and at the same time announce that he would not run for reelection. The author closely follows the widening divisions between the hawks and the doves, quoting Nicholas Katzenbach asking the president, ``Can the tortoise of progress in Vietnam stay ahead of the hare of dissent at home?'' The portrait of the embattled and unyielding president that emerges is vivid and memorable. Much of the primary source material presented in the book contradicts the recollections of White House advisers who, as the author coldly remarks, ``have become quite adept at inventing a history that never was.'' (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-393-30778-8
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