By Col. (Ret) William C. Haponski with Col (Ret) Jerry Burcham
Autopsy Of An Unwinnable War: Vietnam
Colonel (Ret) William C. Haponski with Colonel (Ret) Jerry J. Burcham Forword by Lieutenant General (Ret) Dave R. Palmer Hardcover, 264 pp., 2019
Since the fall of Saigon in 1975, there have been much discussion of why (and whether) America lost the war in Vietnam. The common belief is that the war was lost not on the battlefield but in Washington, DC. The stark facts, though, are that the Vietnam War was lost before the first American shot was fired. In fact, it was lost before the first French Expeditionary Corps shot, almost two decades earlier, and was finally lost when the South Vietnamese fought partly, then entirely, on their own.
Offering an informed narrative of the entire thirty-year war, this book seeks to explain why. Written by a combatant in six large battles and many smaller firefights who was also a leader with a full range of pacification duties, a commander who lost forty-three wonderful young men, Autopsy of an Unwinnable War is the result of a quest for answers by one who, after decades of wondering what it was all about, turned to a years-long search of French, American, and Vietnamese sources.
This is a story lived and revealed mainly by the people inside Vietnam who were directly involved in the war, from leaders in high positions down to the jungle boots and sandals level of the fighters—and among the Vietnamese who were living it. Because of what was happening inside Vietnam itself, no matter what policies and directives came out of Paris or Washington, or the influences in Moscow or Beijing, it is about a Vietnamese idea that would eventually triumph over bullets.