Harlan Ullman

May 2, 2018

Anatomy of Failure

Why America Loses Every War It Starts

Naval Institute Press 2017

purchase at bookshop.org

Since 1945, the United States has lost every war it started. Why? A Vietnam War veteran, Tufts University Ph. D. and intimate of many of the leading figures in the American national security apparatus in the past forty-years, Dr. Harlan Ullman's new book endeavors to find the answers to this most disturbing of queries. An in depth examination of American strategic and military decision-making since the Eisenhower era, Dr. Ullman shows the reader the flawed policy processes and decisions which made debacles such as Vietnam War, the Second Gulf War and the ongoing war in Afghanistan all too predictable. According to Dr. Ullman one answer to his query is simply that almost all presidents and administrations since 1960 have consistently failed to use sound strategic thinking and lacked sufficient knowledge or understanding of the circumstances prior to deciding whether or not to employ force.

From John F. Kennedy to Donald Trump, from Vietnam to the war against ISIS, Anatomy of Failure: Why America Loses Every War It Starts (Naval Institute Press, 2017) is in the words of Edward Luce of the Financial Times a must read book for anyone who wishes to find out why American foreign policy has in too many cases been a catalog of failure. All from the man who invented the concept of 'Shock and Awe'.


Charles Coutinho holds a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Charles Coutinho

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written for Chatham House’s International Affairs, the Institute of Historical Research's Reviews in History and the University of Rouen's online periodical Cercles.

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