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Lyndon Johnson's War Book Review

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Lyndon Johnson's War Book Review
Book Review
Lyndon Johnsons War Review

The Vietnam War involved many decisions and outcomes, many of which have latter been reviewed with more uncertainty then confidence. With this Michael Hunt, the author uses both American and Vietnamese resources, some which before the book were never heard from. He uses these sources to try to explain how the United States of America was sucked into involvement with Southeast Asia. The overall conclusion of the book does not bring to many new views on why the United States involved itself with the issues of Vietnam but more confirms already believed views that they began in the conflict with comprehension of Vietnam’s problem other than the issue of the cold war.

The preface, Hunt expresses how his early beliefs on Vietnam were molded by books he had read including Lederer and Burdick's The Ugly American, Fall's Street without Joy, and Greene's The Quiet American. He talks of living with his family in Saigon for the summer in the 1960s. His father worked with the U.S. military mission, to revamp the simple idea of Americans as “innocent moral crusaders”) in which was done outside of and in blindness to the actual Vietnamese history and culture. Hunt begins with an extensive look at the America’s view and movement on to the Cold War. In Chapter One, "The Cold War World of The Ugly American," he reviews the United States' indifference to the problems Vietnam while centering on a more international inference. That makes Ho Chi Minh with the seem to be more a communist instead of a patriot and which in turn led initially to help the French colonialism in the area, then to the support of anticommunist leaders, an move that attracted the United States to the issue. Hunt then blames Eisenhower administration's views, which gave a " ... simple picture of Asians as either easily educable friends or implacable communist foes" (p. 17).

The second Chapter, the author looks at Ho Chi Minh and why he was so well liked among the Vietnamese. Though not forgetting his communist background, Hunt makes the argument that Ho was more of a practical person who would, to better the Vietnamese, use any way possible. Eisenhower’s administration refused to accept this kind of sweeping nationalism which "... left nationalism starkly at odds with communism and could make no sense of politically engaged intellectuals as ready to rally against American as they had against French domination" (p. 41). Hunt hold back some of his not so found thoughts for the Kennedy administration who aided making Vietnam as a not declared war while the United States started to be more involved in the 1960s. In the chapter "Learned Academics on the Potomac" he examines people such as Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, McGeorge Bundy, and John F. Kennedy himself in light of their ongoing outlook and the issues of Southeast Asia coming from the administration beforehand.

Hunts’ main reasoning for the sole responsibility of United States militarily involvement in Vietnam is in the title itself. In the chapter “That bitch of a war” near the end of in the book, which is quoting Lyndon Johnson, the author blames the true reason for the war to be Johnson’s fault. Though what we learned previously throughout the book helped set the spark of the war, Johnson overlooked many chances to extinguish the problems. Hunt states that Johnson “imagined a moral landscape” in Vietnam while using drawing from unrelated experiences from his time spent in Congress and the Texas Hill Country create plan of stability in Saigon. An example from the chapter “How distant Johnson's Vietnam was from the real thing and how close to his own American experience is evident in his constant injunction to his Vietnamese allies to act like proper leaders--by which he meant helping constituents, showering benefits on them, and getting out for some serious handshaking” (p. 77).
The ending chapter, "How Heavy the Reckoning,” Hunt looks at the United States' departure from the war and the outcomes of that conflict on the American mind. Hunt takes the U.S. relationship with Vietnam all the way into the early 1990s, when a relationship was planned don being rebuilt by President Clinton. With the American involvement still happening, He uses an analogy by referring to American involvement as "only a flesh wound" (p. 125).

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