On April 30, 1975, Saigon and the government of South Vietnam fell to the communist regime of North Vietnam, ending -- for American military forces -- exactly twenty-five year of courageous but unavailing struggle. This is not the story of how America became embroiled in a conflict in a small country half-way around the globe, nor of why our armed forces remained there so long after the futility of our efforts became obvious to many. It is the story of what went wrong there militarily, and why. The author is a professional soldier who experienced the Vietnam war in the field and in the highest command echelons. General Palmer's insights into the key events and decisions that shaped American's military role in Vietnam are uncommonly perceptive. America's most serious error, he believes, was committing its armed forces to a war in which neither political nor military goals were ever fully articulated by our civilian leaders. Our armed forces, lacking clear objectives, failed to develop an appropriate strategy, instead relinquishing the offensive to Hanoi. Yet an achievable strategy could have been devised, Palmer believes. Moreover, our South Vietnamese allies could have been bolstered by appropriate aid but were instead overwhelmed by the massive American military presence. Compounding these errors were the flawed civilian and military chains of command. The result was defeat for America and disaster for South Vietnam. General Palmer presents here an insider's history of the war and an astute critique of America's military strengths and successes as well as its weaknesses and failures.
"A short, fact-filled and thoughtful book. Palmer manages to keep a balance that will prove helpful to the scholar, the soldier, and the man in the street." -- American Historical Review
"This book is a page-turner.... It may even be an understatement to say that this is probably the most complete and useful after-action report written by any American military commander in this Nation's 208-year history." -- Armed Forces Journal
"Perhaps the best single account of the Vietnam War by a military man.... A tough, dispassionate, common-sense analysis of America's military role in Vietnam." -- Baltimore Sun
"Palmer writes with a clarity and candor remarkable in any military memoir, offering severe (but not rancorous) judgments on himself and his colleagues.... This book will stand as the indispensable resource for students of the war and the American defense establishment that has survived it." -- New York Times Book Review
"A senior military commander's honest, unsentimental account of the Vietnam war." -- Wall Street Journal
"If you read only one book about Vietnam, this should be it." -- Washingtonian