Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We DidBackfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us Into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did by Loren Baritz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read many books on the Vietnam War. Most were all about the who, what, where, and how. This book, however, is about the WHY! And while many of the reasons behind this debacle in US history were known to me or suspected highly, Mr. Baritz puts it all out there in this book; the motivations, the errors in judgement, the manipulations, the lies and deceit, the ineptitude of our leaders (civilian and military), etc. It’s just the whole sad story that cost so many lives.

And for what?

So politicians could get re-elected? So bureaucrats could continue their cush gigs while feeding from the public trough? So military men could give themselves medals and advance their careers? I have no respect for the entire lot of them.

The ones involved in that cluster-screw who I have respect and empathy for are the U.S. servicemen and women who were out there every day getting the asses shot at. The grunts slogging through the mud and mines to achieve some cockamamie goal dreamed up by suits sitting in air conditioned offices 10,000 mile away.

I have respect and empathy for the innocent Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians who suffered so much during this era. They lost so much to gain so little.

I have respect for North Vietnamese people and leaders. They outlasted the US. They bided their time. They suffered. They lost much. They won.

If you have any interest in this era, you should read this book. It was written in 1985, but could be used as a blueprint of what NOT TO DO in our current era when it comes to “limited wars” and wasting of human life for causes that cannot even remotely be classified as noble.

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About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

2 responses »

  1. On this eve of Veterans day I appreciate your comments.
    A couple of days ago I heard the lyrics of “Universal Soldier” ( a song written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and I found the ending lyrics very disturbing:

    “He’s the one who gives his body
    As a weapon of the war,
    And without him all this killing can’t go on.
    He’s the Universal Soldier and he really is to blame,”

    I find the notion of refusing to fight for one’s country being a moral imperative of the youth being forced into uniform rather naive. Had more youth fled to Canada the U.S. authorities would have taken drastic measures to return and imprison them. The war was going to go on with or without those who refused induction.
    I have ordered Backfire on your recommendation.
    You might find William Manchester’s, The Arms of Krupp: 1587–1968 (1000 pages) to be of interest. I have read three times. This is a story detailing 500 years of what Eisenhower’s military–industrial–congressional complex warning was about.
    It is good to hear from you Eric.

    • Hi, Terry! Good to see you’re still alive and kicking. 🙂

      I think you’ll really appreciate Baritz’ book. I was going to say “enjoy”, but it’s a difficult thesis about a difficult era. Many parts of the book pissed me off; few made me serene and happy. However, it’s a book EVERYONE should read and understand. What this man is saying about the Vietnam War is still cogent in today’s world. We’ve learned no lessons. The beat goes on… same ol’ shit. The politicians, the military brass, and even American businesses are all still playing the same games that have cost so many lives over the centuries.

      As I’ve always said… there will never be PEACE until it becomes more profitable than WAR.

      I’ll definitely have a looksee at Manchester’s book. Thanks!


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