Synopses & Reviews
A Grand Delusion is the first comprehensive single-volume American political history of the Vietnam War. Spanning the years 1945 to 1975, it is the definitive story of the well-meaning but often misguided American political leaders whose unquestioning adherence to Cold War dogma led the nation into its tragic misadventure in Vietnam. At the center of this narrative are seven such men-Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, J. William Fulbright, Mike Mansfield, and George McGovern. During their careers, each occupied center-stage in the nation's debate over Vietnam policy.Mann focuses in particular on the role played by leading members of Congress, including senators' Mansfield and Kennedy's shaping of American policy toward Vietnam in the 1950s; Congress's acquiescence in the 1950s to the Eisenhower administration's support of the American-backed Diem government; and the blank check that Congress gave to Lyndon Johnson with the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution.Mann considers as well the evolution of opposition to the war, including pivotal hearings conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1966 to 1968; the small band of war opponents led by senators Fulbright, McGovern, and Wayne Morse; Mansfield's quiet-but-persistent lobbying campaign to dissuade his friend Lyndon Johnson from escalating the war in 1965; the bitter political feud that erupted between Fulbright and Johnson-erstwhile friends-over the war; McGovern and Hatfield's determined effort to force Richard Nixon to withdraw American forces from Vietnam; and Congress's assertion of its Constitutional role in war making in the early 1970s, culminating in the passage of the War Powers resolution in 1973.In addition to being a piercing analysis of the political currents that resulted in and eventually ended the war, A Grand Delusion is an epic tragedy filled with fascinating characters and a keen reflection on the antagonisms and beliefs that divided the nation during those tumultuous years.