Lyndon Johnson and His Vietnam Advisors
David M. Barrett
Lyndon Johnson, when it comes to his role in the Vietnam War, is popularly portrayed as an irrational "hawkish" leader who bullied his advisers and refused to solicit a wide range of opinions. that depiction, David Barrett argues, is simplistic and far from accurate.
In this book, Barrett contends that Johnson's insistence on secrecy, plus his colorful personality, have overshadowed his approach to policymaking and his consideration of a wide spectrum of opinion from a variety of formal and informal advisers. Following a paper trail of memoranda, letters, diaries, and notes, Barrett not only examines how Johnson dealt with his advisers and developed a complex system of consultation but delves into Johnson's personality and style to show their impact on his decisions.
“There will be few readers of this challenging and well-argued book who will put it down without a more sophisticated understanding of the Johnson administration.”
—Journal of American History
“Barrett’s work helps one appreciate further the tortured complexity of Lyndon Johnson and the flawed and tragic nature of the American military involvement in Vietnam that he oversaw.”
—Review of PoliticsSee all reviews...
“Recommended to both history buffs and those whose lives Vietnam touched, who still wonder how and why decisions were made on US involvement.”
“Barrett has produced a highly provocative study that examines Lyndon Johnson’s national security apparatus and decision-making process.”
—Naval War College Review
“Barrett successfully undermines the standard view of Johnson’s decision-making process.”
—American Historical Review
“Important and disturbing.”
—International History Review
“A book that should be read closely by those interested in LBJ and why Vietnam happened. . . . By allowing for a very complex LBJ, Barrett has given us a more interesting figure than have many better-known books.”
—Deborah Shapley, author of Promise and Power: The Life and Times of Robert McNamara
“A book of great humanity and compassion. . . . Fair-minded without being uncritical, thorough but never pedantic, always clear and readable, this book belongs on the small shelf of truly first-class books on American policy in the Vietnam War.”
—William P. Bundy, former editor of Foreign Affairs
“A genuinely important study which views President Johnson&8217;s conduct of Vietnam policy with a fresh eye.”
—George McT. Kahin, author of Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam
“Uncertain Warriors will be much discussed as Vietnam scholars continue to debate the question, ‘Why Vietnam?’”
—Lloyd Gardner, author of Approaching Vietnam: From World War II through Dienbienphu
“The best account I have seen of Tet decisions.”
—George C. Herring, author of America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950–1975See fewer reviews...
Despite Johnson's willingness to consider opposing viewpoints, Barrett concedes, his rational advisory system nevertheless produced a flawed and fatal set of policies because they were based on an increasingly outdated world view.