The Road to Disaster
A New History of America’s Descent Into Vietnam
Harper Collins 2018
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network October 9, 2018 Matthew Johnson
Many books have been written on the tragic decisions regarding Vietnam made by the young stars of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Yet despite millions of words of analysis and reflection, no historian has been able to explain why such decent, brilliant, and previously successful men stumbled so badly.
That changes with The Road to Disaster: A New History of America’s Descent Into Vietnam (Harper Collins, 2018). Historian Brian VanDeMark, a professor of history at the United States Naval Academy, draws upon decades of archival research, his own interviews with many of those involved, and a wealth of previously unheard recordings by Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford, who served as Defense Secretaries for Kennedy and Johnson. Yet beyond that, Road to Disaster is also the first history of the war to look at the cataclysmic decisions of those in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations through the prism of recent research in cognitive science, psychology, and organizational theory to explain why the “Best and the Brightest” became trapped in situations that suffocated creative thinking and willingness to dissent, why they found change so hard, and why they were so blind to their own errors.
An epic history of America’s march to quagmire, Road to Disaster is a landmark in scholarship and a book of immense importance.