Synopses & Reviews
They were four exceptional soldiers, a new generation asked to save an army that had been hollowed out after Vietnam. They survived the military's brutal winnowing to reach its top echelon. They became the Army's most influential generals in the crucible of Iraq.
Collectively, their lives tell the story of the Army over the last four decades and illuminate the path it must travel to protect the nation over the next century. Theirs is a story of successes and failures, of ambitions achieved and thwarted, of the responsibilities and perils of command. The careers of this elite quartet show how the most powerful military force in the world entered a major war unprepared, and how the Army, drawing on a reservoir of talent that few thought it possessed, saved itself from crushing defeat against a ruthless, low-tech foe. In The Fourth Star, you'll follow:
•Gen. John Abizaid, one of the Army's most brilliant minds. Fluent in Arabic, he forged an unconventional path in the military to make himself an expert on the Middle East, but this unique background made him skeptical of the war he found himself leading.
•Gen. George Casey Jr., the son of the highest-ranking general to be killed in the Vietnam War. Casey had grown up in the Army and won praise for his common touch and skill as a soldier. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam but would take much of the blame as Iraq collapsed around him.
•Gen. Peter Chiarelli, an emotional, take-charge leader who, more than any other senior officer, felt the sting of the Army's failures in Iraq. He drove his soldiers, the chain of command, and the U.S. government to rethink the occupation plans–yet rarely achieved the results he sought.
•Gen. David Petraeus, a driven soldier-scholar. Determined to reach the Army's summit almost since the day he entered West Point, he sometimes alienated peers with his ambition and competitiveness. When he finally got his chance in Iraq, he–more than anyone–changed the Army's conception of what was possible.
Masterfully written and richly reported, The Fourth Star ranges far beyond today's battlefields, evoking the Army's tumultuous history since Vietnam through these four captivating lives and ultimately revealing a fascinating irony: In an institution that prizes obedience, the most effective warriors are often those who dare to question the prevailing orthodoxy and in doing so redefine the American way of war.
From the Hardcover edition.
"This is a terrific book, lively and brisk, and surprisingly interesting. How could this deeply flawed, limited man rise so high in the U.S. Army? This will be the definitive book on Westmoreland, and a must read for anyone who tries to understand the Vietnam War."
-Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco and The Gamble
" Lewis Sorley's brilliant portrait of General Westmoreland helps us understand why our war lasted so long and ended as it did. This is biography at its finest."
- Bui Diem, South Vietnamese Ambassador to the United States (1967-1972)
"A riveting history of how ambition corrupted soldierly virtues and led to slyness, hubris and national disaster. A scorching indictment of how generals covered up for each other." -Bing West, author of THE WRONG WAR: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan "To understand the Vietnam War in its totality one must logically try to understand General Westmoreland. Dr. Lewis Sorley has made an enormous contribution by revealing General Westmorelands complex personality and the role it played in U.S. foreign policy." -Melvin R. Laird, former Secretary of Defense and nine-term Member of Congress "Reaching beyond the surface to penetrate the enigma of General William C. Westmoreland, Lewis Sorley gathers the recollections of Westys Army colleagues, the mans personal papers, and official records to tell the story of a general who has remained opaque despite the many debates over his role in the Vietnam war. Eye-opening and sometimes maddening, Sorleys Westmoreland is not to be missed." -John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War
A biography of Vietnam general William Westmoreland by the author of A BETTER WAR.
is a great book, a classic by an author who knows his subject well and tells the story without hesitation.” — General Donn A. Starry, U.S. Army (ret.), Commander, Army Training and Doctrine Command (1977-1981)
Is it possible that the riddle of Americas military failure in Vietnam has a one-word, one-man answer?
Unless and until we understand General William Westmoreland, we will never understand what went wrong in Vietnam. An Eagle Scout at fifteen, First Captain of his West Point class, Westmoreland fought in two wars and became Superintendent at West Point. Then he was chosen to lead the war effort in Vietnam for four crucial years.
He proved a disaster. He could not think creatively about unconventional warfare, chose an unavailing strategy, stuck to it in the face of all opposition, and stood accused of fudging the results when it mattered most. In this definitive portrait, Lewis Sorley makes a plausible case that the war could have been won were it not for Westmoreland. The tragedy of William Westmoreland carries lessons not just for Vietnam, but for the future of American leadership.
Westmoreland is essential reading from a masterly historian.
About the Author
Lewis Sorley is a third-generation graduate of the United States Military Academy who also holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. He served in Vietnam, and in the Pentagon in the offices of Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and Army Chief of Staff General William C. Westmoreland. He also taught at West Point and the Army War College. He is the author of five highly-regarded works of military history.
Table of Contents
1. ORIGINS 1
2. EARLY SERVICE 9
3. WORLD WAR II 14
4. AIRBORNE DUTY 25
5. JAPAN AND KOREA 31
6. PENTAGON 41
7. DIVISION COMMAND 48
8. SUPERINTENDENT 56
9. VIETNAM 65
10. FORCES BUILDUP 77
11. SEARCH AND DESTROY 91
12. ATMOSPHERICS 108
13. BODY COUNT 121
14. M-16 RIFLES 131
15. PROGRESS OFFENSIVE 143
16. ORDER OF BATTLE 159
17. KHE SANH 168
18. TET 1968 174
19. TROOP REQUEST 189
20. HEADING HOME 198
21. CHIEF OF STAFF 206
22. SHAPING THE RECORD 225
23. VOLUNTEER ARMY 233
24. VIETNAM DRAWDOWN 241
25. DEPARTURE 247
26. IN RETIREMENT 251
27. MEMOIRS 259
28. CAMPAIGNER 267
29. PLAINTIFF 278
30. DUSK 295
Glossary of Acronyms and Abbreviations 310
Selected Bibliography 356