Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Sorley’s bio of General Westmoreland: How did Westy go so far in the Army?

I’ve just finished reading an advance copy of Lewis Sorley’s biography of General William Westmoreland, which will be published later this year. It is terrific, and surprisingly interesting. I found it a lively, brisk read, despite Westy having been in many ways a dull man. The tension that drives the book comes from the author’s ...

amazon.com
amazon.com
amazon.com

I've just finished reading an advance copy of Lewis Sorley's biography of General William Westmoreland, which will be published later this year. It is terrific, and surprisingly interesting. I found it a lively, brisk read, despite Westy having been in many ways a dull man.

The tension that drives the book comes from the author's continuing astonishment at his subject: How could this deeply flawed, limited man rise so high in the U.S. Army? Westmoreland was an ambitious, energetic but incurious man, one who looked more like a general than thought like one. In many ways he was a stupid man.

The stunning chapter titled "Atmospherics," about how Westy lived and operated in Vietnam, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

I’ve just finished reading an advance copy of Lewis Sorley’s biography of General William Westmoreland, which will be published later this year. It is terrific, and surprisingly interesting. I found it a lively, brisk read, despite Westy having been in many ways a dull man.

The tension that drives the book comes from the author’s continuing astonishment at his subject: How could this deeply flawed, limited man rise so high in the U.S. Army? Westmoreland was an ambitious, energetic but incurious man, one who looked more like a general than thought like one. In many ways he was a stupid man.

The stunning chapter titled “Atmospherics,” about how Westy lived and operated in Vietnam, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

I expect this will be the definitive book on Westmoreland, and a must read for anyone who tries to understand the Vietnam War.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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