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Dereliction of Duty

Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam
Narrated by: H. R. McMaster
Length: 15 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)
Regular price: $34.95
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Publisher's Summary

"The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C." (H. R. McMaster, from the conclusion)

Dereliction of Duty is a stunning analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out and disastrous war in Southeast Asia. Fully and convincingly researched, based on transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations, and decisions, it is the only book that fully re-creates what happened and why. McMaster pinpoints the policies and decisions that got the United States into the morass and reveals who made these decisions and the motives behind them, disproving the published theories of other historians and excuses of the participants.

A riveting narrative, Dereliction of Duty focuses on a fascinating cast of characters: President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy, and other top aides who deliberately deceived the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Congress, and the American public.

McMaster’s only book, Dereliction of Duty is an explosive and authoritative new look at the controversy concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam.

©1997 H. R. McMaster (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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Great book!

A very fine and important book. And very well researched and written. From a Vietnam veteran.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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the war

their respective companies in my opinion is that the best way to get their own way find everything is going to be charged

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Poor reading

The detail and organization were what I was looking for. However the reader’s phrasing was very difficult. Pauses in the wrong places and not where they should have been.

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Must read for any student of history

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to know and understand the war in Vietnam. General McMasters clearly outlines and describes the deceitful, underhanded ways President Johnson, Secretary McNamara, and a silent Joint Chiefs got us into the war without approval or even informing the people of the United States or their elected representatives.

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A General Speaks Truth to Power

The author most recently served as National Security Advisor to President Trump departing after just one year apparently over differences with the President. This book is a detailed analysis of what when wrong in Vietnam from the perspective of a highly educated US military officer who was not a decision maker at that time. The focus is on the period of 1962 to 1965 and while very detailed it is also very repetitive. But if you want to get riled up (again) over the handling of the Vietnam War this is the book for you. The author is the narrator. His performance as a narrator is unpolished but sincere. It’s worth the read.

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Excellent summary and an essential contribution

General McMaster has created a fresh look at the sad and inevitable decisions that propelled the USA into the morass of Vietnam. DERELICTION OF DUTY will stand with David Halberstam’s THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST and THE MAKING OF A QUAGMIRE, and Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas’ THE SIX WISE MEN. It is sure to become an essential work for the person who is truly seeking to understand the American role in the Vietnam conflict. It is non-political and not “just another book” about Vietnam. DERELICTION does not rehash the facts, figures, and events that are generally known about the conflict. It is a content-rich presentation of the known as well as recently available evidence about decision making and the decision makers. It combines known facts with new information and it clarifies a complicated timeline and a large cast of characters, including five Presidents across four decades. It answered many questions and left me feeling well informed although sad at the propensity of highly-placed civilian and military leaders to lie and mislead the American public.

I rated DERELICTION as four stars overall. While the story is excellent in all respects and worthy of five stars, the narration consistently pronounces “A-Mer-i-can” as “uh-MUR-cn” or simply "MUR-cn." That word is, quite literally, included in nearly every paragraph.

This is a worthy listen.

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  • hazel
  • 03-04-19

Cool, factual analysis of the Vietnam catastrophe

Lies and self deception at the highest levels of government. The deadly intellectual arrogance of Robert McNamara. Exclusion of dissenting opinion. All this led to the US war crime that was Vietnam. The entire sorry episode was predicted with uncanny accuracy both by a simulated war game and by one of the high level advisers (Green, I think) who was asked to take the other side of the argument, then ignored. A brilliant, forensic book and McMaster is also a good narrator.