Book Review of Backfire: a History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did

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Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did, a book by Loren Baritz, describes the myths America takes into wars, the decisions that made the Vietnam War and the bureaucracy at war. Loren Baritz writes this book about the time period of 1945 to about 1975, which is post World War II to post Vietnam War. Loren Baritz describes how American culture influenced the way the American soldiers fought in Vietnam and how American culture influenced the way politics and generals made their decisions during the Vietnam War. This book talks about the reasons why America went to war, how America fought the war, why America spent thirty years in Vietnam, and America lost the war. Baritz says America lost the war because “our technology made us strong, and out bureaucracy gave us standard operating procedures. It was not a winning combination,” (54). Baritz’s main theme in Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did is how American culture caused a war in Vietnam and how it took so long to end.

Loren Baritz wrote this book “to explore the answer, to see whether our Vietnam experience could be made to reveal what there was, and is, about the condition of being an American that promotes or retards the discovery that fire is hot,” (7). Baritz used a straightforward approach in this book, telling what happened like it was. He not only told what happened in the Vietnam War, but why it happened and the thought processes of the people who were making the main decisions about the war. He was not objective in his writing and wrote from different peoples’ perspectives about the war. He is not one sided and does not show if he is for the war or against it, until he says so at the end. He did not use any assumptions in the book and had facts and evidence for everything that he said. Baritz used a comprehensive bibliography that had over 688 sources cited. All of his facts in...
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