From a celebrated military historian, a powerful account of the most pivotal year of the Vietnam war—the greatest disaster of 20th-century American foreign policy—that changed America forever.
As a cynical French proverb states, “Nothing fails like success.” And no success in modern military history sparked a more catastrophic failure than the American efforts in Vietnam in 1965, led by the administration of Lyndon Johnson, who had misled the American public about his intentions prior to his 1964 election. Over the course of those twelve months, the United States took over management of the long-simmering conflict from its French ally in Saigon; deployed more than 150,000 additional American troops; launched an air campaign against North Vietnam; and initiated a large-scale ground war against an increasingly strong communist insurgency on the verge of defeating the South Vietnamese Army.
By December 1965, the communist offensive had been turned back, and US forces were firmly in place in strategically vital areas of South Vietnam. A stable, pro-Western government had been reestablished in Saigon. Washington had approved a plan by its commanding general in Vietnam, William Westmoreland, to win the ground war in a matter of two to three years by destroying the enemy’s main force regular army and cutting off the lifeline of the insurgency—the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail.
But all did not proceed as planned. The United States ultimately found its involvement disastrously irreversible when the war reached a tipping point of tragedy.
Vividly interweaving the events in Washington with the actions in Vietnam, author and military historian James Warren explores in rich and fascinating detail the mindsets of the North Vietnamese adversaries and their ingenious strategies to compensate their inferiority in military firepower. Based on a wealth of recent, well-documented research, The Year of the Hawk offers fresh insights into how a nationalist movement led by committed communist revolutionaries from a small agricultural country defeated the most powerful nation on earth.
James A. Warren is a writer and former visiting scholar in the American Studies Department at Brown University. A regular contributor to The Daily Beast, Warren is the author of God, War, and Providence; Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam; and American Spartans: The United States Marines: A Combat History from Iwo Jima to Iraq, among other books. His articles have appeared in MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vietnam Magazine, Society, and TheProvidence Journal. For many years Warren was an acquisitions editor in the fields of history, religion, and ethnic studies at Columbia University Press. Educated at Brown, he lives in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.