Decades later, the Vietnam War remains a divisive memory for
American society. Partisans on all sides still debate why the war
was fought, how it could have been better fought, and whether it
could have been won at all.
In this major study, a noted expert on the war brings a needed
objectivity to these debates by examining dispassionately how and
why President Lyndon Johnson and his administration conducted the
war as they did. Drawing on a wealth of newly released documents
from the LBJ Library, including the Tom Johnson notes from the
influential Tuesday Lunch Group, George Herring discusses the
concept of limited war and how it affected President Johnson's
decision making, Johnson's relations with his military commanders,
the administration's pacification program of 1965-1967, the
management of public opinion, and the "fighting while negotiating"
strategy pursued after the Tet Offensive in 1968.
The author's in-depth analysis exposes numerous flaws in
Johnson's management of the war. In Herring's view, the Johnson
administration lacked any overall strategy for conducting the war.
No change in approach was ever discussed, despite popular and even
administration dissatisfaction with the progress of the war, and no
oversight committee coordinated the activities of the military
services and various governmental agencies, which were left to
follow their own, often conflicting, agendas.
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