A very well written Review and seems, well written, accurate History of Vietnam and its war.
' These communist attacks failed but they triggered increased protests in the United States and led the next American president, Richard Nixon, to begin a five-year process of withdrawing US forces. "The Tet Offensive was a military defeat but a political victory for the communists." '
Both the Author and this Review got it, exactly right; his above para, conclusion states completely and precisely both Tet's results and consequences for American participation in Vietnam and the war. These next two para's with surgical accuracy convey that History and its impact upon Washington DC, American reactions and the importance of political Capitols to events from beyond their immediate geography.
'Contextually, he builds a case for an intelligence failure beginning at the senior military and political levels of the American command. He documents the predictions of General William Westmoreland, commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, in 1967 and 1968 that American victory was close. Here, Bowden establishes the perspective of senior American leaders that the war was well in hand, if only because Westmoreland had said so ……...
If nothing else, this strategic perspective helps to explain the thunderclap surprise of the Tet Offensive as well as the initial assessments that the communist attacks were a not serious threat. ………………..
While Bowden writes about misperceptions and misunderstandings at senior levels, he focuses less on the American intelligence failure to notice and warn of the communist offensive, although he does note the intelligence failure (p. 90).'
This Tet strike upon Vietnam and Hue[northern zone of So. Vietnam] did hit DC like his excellent historiography sets out as a 'Thunderclap'. How could a war going so well in favor of Americans be so surprised and turn so instantly into a battle for very existence of South Vietnam from one end of that so called country to the other. Overnite, all the American failures were revealed by Communist assault and underestimated abilities. So claimed truth was now realized as falsehood and self deception about an undefeated enemy. How could intelligence have been such a failure ?
He may be over evaluating Hue but this northern ancient Capitol was firmly in Communist control and as his History here seems to set down, its amputation from So. Vietnam would have indeed been a mortal blow; here the Marines did save So. Vietnam temporarily but probably also insured the prolonged war whose end there and then would have had recriminations unimagined both political and military. Marine success also restored the reputation of American arms and exposed just how vicious and violent Communist success can be against attempts to sustain a free people and Democracy. In this service the enemy of Democracy became well known.