Paperback / softback
June 3, 1998
9780801859533
English
400
9.25 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.94 Inches (US)
1.1 Pounds (US)
$29.00 USD, £21.50 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Backfire

A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did

In a probing look at the myths of American culture that led us into the Vietnam quagmire, Loren Baritz exposes our national illusions: the conviction of our moral supremacy, our assumption that Americans are more idealistic than other people, and our faith in a technology that supposedly makes us invincible. He also reveals how Vietnam changed American culture today, from the successes and failures of the Washington bureaucracy to the destruction of the traditional military code of honor.

About the Author

Loren Baritz has served as chairman of the Department of History at the University of Rochester, provost and acting chancellor at the State University of New York, and provost at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of The Servants of Power, City on a Hill, and The Culture of the Twenties.

Reviews

Baritz's emphasis on the underlying assumptions that motivated American policy makers and the vigor and unconcealed emotion with which he writes give these pages an impact they would not otherwise have... It reminds us with eloquence, power and passion that war is a form of intercourse with other peoples that unveils the deepest assumptions that a nation makes about itself and its relationship to the outside world.

- Los Angeles Times

Endorsements

The first full-length and scholarly account of why we got into Vietnam in the first place, why we fought as barbarously as the Japanese in Manchuria or the Germans in Poland, and why we deserved to lose it—indeed why we did have to lose it if we were to find any kind of ultimate peace.

- Henry Steele Commager, Amherst College

A provocative and informative book written in the easy style of a seasoned teacher. One must wonder what might have been had Backfire been written two decades earlier.

- Paul Bucha, Medal of Honor, Vietnam

This remarkable book provides a way of looking at the Vietnam War that is both intellectually complex and extremely moving.

- Susan Sontag

Baritz reminds us of how confident we were in America's invincibility during those pre-Vietnam War days. He looks closely into 'the invention of South Vietnam' during the Kennedy years, and he examines the body counting war at home—the bureaucratic and psychological effort to convince ourselves that we were winning, and would surely win. Backfire reveals brilliantly why the lessons of Vietnam are so difficult to learn.

- Martin J. Sherwin - History Book Club
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801859533 : backfire-baritz
Paperback / softback
400 Pages
$29.00 USD

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