Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam

Front Cover
Harper Collins, May 8, 1998 - History - 480 pages
"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 new 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 recently released transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it is the only book that fully re-creates what happened and why. It also 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.

Dereliction Of Duty covers the story in strong narrative fashion, focusing 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 U.S. Congress and the American public.

Sure to generate controversy, Dereliction Of Duty is an explosive and authoritative new look at the controversy concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam.



The New Frontiersmen and the Old Guard 1961October 1962
Havana and Hanoi October 1962November 1963
New War New Leader November 1963January 1964
Graduated Pressure JanuaryMarch 1964
From Distrust to Deceit MarchJuly 1964
Across the Threshold JulyAugust 1964
Contriving Consensus AugustSeptember 1964
Prophecies Rejected and the Path of Least Resistance SeptemberNovember 1964
The Foot in the Door FebruaryMarch 1965
A Quicksand of Lies MarchApril 1965
The Coach and His Team AprilJune 1965
War without Direction AprilJune 1965
Five Silent Men July 1965
Selected Bibliography

Planning for Failure NovemberDecember 1964
A Fork in the Road December 1964February 1965

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Page 133 - That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.
Page 133 - President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.
Page 134 - First, our Navy played absolutely no part in, was not associated with, was not aware of, any South Vietnamese actions, if there were any.
Page 309 - The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and means can never be considered in isolation from their purpose.
Page 35 - You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours,' he warned them, 'but even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.
Page 28 - The first advice I'm going to give my successor is to watch the generals and to avoid feeling that just because they were military men their opinions on military matters were worth a damn.
Page 123 - ... to issue orders to the commanders of the combat aircraft and the two destroyers (a) to attack any force which attacks them in international waters, and (b) to attack with the objective not only of driving off the force but of destroying it.
Page 260 - Such peace demands an independent South Viet-Nam — securely guaranteed and able to shape its own relationships to all others — free from outside interference — tied to no alliance — a military base for no other country.

About the author (1998)

H. R. McMaster, a recent award-winning teacher at West Point and an inspiring leader in the Gulf War, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1984 and has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in American History from the University of North Carolina. He is now attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS.

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