Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did, a book by Loren Baritz, describes the myths America takes into wars, the decisions that made the Vietnam War and the bureaucracy at war. Loren Baritz writes this book about the time period of 1945 to about 1975, which is post World War II to post Vietnam War. Loren Baritz describes how American culture influenced the way the American soldiers fought in Vietnam and how American culture influenced the way politics and generals made their decisions during the Vietnam War.
This book talks about the reasons why America went to war, how America fought the war, why America spent thirty years in Vietnam, and America lost the war. Baritz says America lost the war because “our technology made us strong, and out bureaucracy gave us standard operating procedures. It was not a winning combination,” (54). Baritz’s main theme in Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did is how American culture caused a war in Vietnam and how it took so long to end.
Loren Baritz wrote this book “to explore the answer, to see whether our Vietnam experience could be made to reveal what there was, and is, about the condition of being an American that promotes or retards the discovery that fire is hot,” (7). Baritz used a straightforward approach in this book, telling what happened like it was. He not only told what happened in the Vietnam War, but why it happened and the thought processes of the people who were making the main decisions about the war. He was not objective in his writing and wrote from different peoples’ perspectives about the war.
He is not one sided and does not show if he is for the war or against it, until he says so at the end. He did not use any assumptions in the book and had facts and evidence for everything that he said. Baritz used a comprehensive bibliography that had over 688 sources cited. All of his facts in Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did are evidently cited and it is clear that Baritz took time to plan out his arguments and support for them. He used a great method of research while writing this book.
It is evident that Baritz took his time to research and look up very important documents and events before he started writing the book. All of his sources come from well-known and factual books. This book is very useful as a historical resource. In this book, Loren Baritz accomplished his goal of writing about how American culture led America into the war and made the soldiers fight the way they did. Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did is a great book and is does not have many flaws.
This book is very well written and is not too hard to understand. There is tons of information about everything related to the Vietnam War and politics during that time period. In his book, Baritz includes countless interviews, letters, telegrams, newspaper articles, and book reports. Loren Baritz is not biased in his writing and gives good and reasonable evidence for all of his assertions that he makes. He not only tells what happened, but he explains in great detail why it happened, which not many other books do.
One of the only bad things about this book is that it jumps around in time periods. For example, on one page Loren Baritz is talking about how something in 1965 is affecting the Vietnam War, and then on the next page, he is talking about how an even in 1950 helped cause the war. The only other problem besides that is when Baritz gets off topic quite often. He switches between topics too often and then comes back to them after talking about an unrelated topic.
Besides these two negative things, this book is still great. The readers have to agree on most of Loren Baritz’s arguments because of the amount of facts he gives to back it up. It is hard to disagree with his arguments because his arguments are very logical and they do not have many flaws in them. Backfire: A History of How American Culture Led Us into Vietnam and Made Us Fight the Way We Did is highly recommended for anyone trying to learn more about the Vietnam War.