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Anatomy of Victory

Why the United States Triumphed in World War II, Fought to a Stalemate in Korea, Lost in Vietnam, and Failed in Iraq
Narrated by: Chris Sorensen
Length: 20 hrs and 26 mins
Categories: History, Military
4 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This groundbreaking book provides the first systematic comparison of America's modern wars and why they were won or lost. John D. Caldwell uses the World War II victory as the historical benchmark for evaluating the success and failure of later conflicts. Unlike WWII, the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraqi wars were limited, but they required enormous national commitments, produced no lasting victories, and generated bitter political controversies.  

Caldwell comprehensively examines these four wars through the lens of a strategic architecture to explain how and why their outcomes were so dramatically different. He defines a strategic architecture as an interlinked set of continually evolving policies, strategies, and operations by which combatant states work toward a desired end. Policy defines the high-level goals a nation seeks to achieve once it initiates a conflict or finds itself drawn into one. Strategy means employing whatever resources are available to achieve policy goals in situations that are dynamic as conflicts change quickly over time. Operations are the actions that occur when politicians, soldiers, and diplomats execute plans.   

A strategic architecture, Caldwell argues, is thus not a static blueprint, but a dynamic vision of how a state can succeed or fail in a conflict.

©2018 John D. Caldwell (P)2018 Tantor

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Well organized explanations by the author

Trying to understanding US foreign policy is not easy. This book tries to explain why wars were successful in their objectives or not. This book seems to make a lot of sense. Hopefully, we can learn some things from this book. Having been in the military and in Desert Storm and then I listen to explanations about the Gulf War I can say the author seems to be exactly right. Having been there makes me think he seems to have it right with his retrospective analysis. Unfortunately, I think we don't develop winning strategies because we don't have a stake in these wars. We can just pack up and leave and come home and nothing changes for us. No national security issues, nothing. We just leave. Maybe that is our strategy since WWII. I recommend this book.

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Lost in the weeds

John makes a valiant attempt to relate war and battle details to Strategy. Unfortunately, the attempt results in some historical recollections that, in my opinion, are inaccurate. The following passage for example: “Deputy Chief of Mission George F. Kennan a year later, on February 22, 1946, sent a long cable from Moscow to the secretary of state outlining what came to be known as the “containment strategy.” I’ve read the Long Telegram and I highly recommend that everyone read it. I would not consider it an outline of the containment strategy. I would consider it a policy recommendation that was a precursor to the containment strategy.