dissabte, 28 de maig de 2011


The United States had never lost a war —that is, until 1975, when it was forced to flee Saigon in utter humiliation and abandon South Vietnam to a victorious communist army. The legacy of this first defeat has haunted every president since, especially on the decision of whether to commit troops to war.

In Haunting Legacy, the father-daughter journalist team of Marvin and Deborah Kalb presents a compelling, accessible, and hugely important history of presidential decisionmaking on one crucial issue: in light of the Vietnam debacle, under what circumstances should the United States go to war? Might America again be sucked into an unwinnable conflict, for example? Does a president always need congressional approval, or can the White House act on its own?

One sobering lesson of Vietnam is that the U.S. is not invincible —it can lose a war —and thus it must be more discriminating about the use of American power. Every president has faced the ghosts of Vietnam in a different way, though each has been very wary of being drawn into another unpopular war. Ford (during the Mayaguez crisis) and both Bushes (Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan) acted boldly, as if to say, "Vietnam, be damned." On the other hand, Carter, Clinton, and Reagan (to the surprise of many) acted with extreme caution, mindful of the Vietnam experience. Today in Afghanistan, increasingly seen as Obama's Vietnam, the president who prided himself on being "post-Vietnam" has straddled both options, even as he approaches his time of decision.

The authors spent five years interviewing hundreds of officials from every administration and researching in presidential libraries and archives, and they've produced insight and information never before published. Equal parts taut history, revealing biography, and cautionary tale, Haunting Legacy is must reading for anyone trying to understand the power of the past to influence war-and-peace decisions of the present, and of the future.

AAbout the Authors

Marvin Kalb is the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice (Emeritus) at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and founding director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. His distinguished journalism career covers thirty years of award winning reporting and commentary for CBS and NBC News, including stints as bureau chief in Moscow and host of Meet the Press. His eleven previous books include The Nixon Memo (University of Chicago) and Kissinger (Dell). Deborah Kalb, a freelance writer and editor, worked as a journalist in Washington for two decades, including writing for the Gannett News Service, Congressional Quarterly, U.S. News & World Report, and The Hill. Both authors live in the Washington, D.C. area.


  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815721315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815721314

Etiquetes de comentaris: ,


Blogger Martí Cabré said...

The USA did lose the 1812 war. 1776 was not either a great victory. And Korea was a stalemate. The Caribbean wars were tiny. In WWI they only fought for some months. Their BIG victory was WWII.

The USA retreated from Vietnam in 1973, not 1975, after the Paris Peace Accords, which were then not respected by the communists who kept on fighting until 1975 against the ARVN, which had been left alone by her allies, much like Catalonia in 1714.

From An Loc to Xuan Loc there were brutal battles were the South Vietnamese fought alone against a superpower-backed foe knowing that there was no possible surrender for them. Respect.

28 de maig de 2011, a les 12:16:00 CEST  
Blogger Martí Cabré said...

My theory is that Vietnam caused nightmares in the USA because there was much free press to explain what happened there (and it was the first war shown almost live on TV) and because there was a strong peace movement back home that could not rally for the support any army needs in democracy.

But it must be a really complex theme to analyze, as they have been creating documents about that for forty years.

28 de maig de 2011, a les 12:44:00 CEST  

Publica un comentari a l'entrada

<< Home