The Better War That Never Was

The "better-war" thesis blames generals for failed wars and misses the crucial role of faulty strategies. William Westmoreland's Vietnam ordeal offers a case in point. He deserves better than this latest assault by Lewis Sorley.

Issue: Mar-Apr 2012

Lewis Sorley, Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 416 pp., $30.00.

DID GENERAL Westmoreland lose Vietnam? The answer is no. But he did lose the war over the memory of the Vietnam War. He lost it to military historian Lewis Sorley, among others. In his recent biography of William C. Westmoreland, Sorley posits what might be called “the better-war thesis”—that a better war leading to American victory was available to the United States if only the right general had been in charge. The problem, however, is that this so-called better war exists mostly in the minds of misguided historians and agenda-driven pundits.

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