Vietnam-on-the-potomac by Moya Ann BallVietnam-on-the-potomac by Moya Ann Ball


byMoya Ann Ball

Hardcover | April 1, 1992

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This intriguing volume examines how the small group communication of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson and their key advisors influenced the decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam from January 1961 to July 1965. Using an historical-critical research method, Moya Ann Ball traces the Vietnam decisions from the combative rhetoric of Kennedy's presidential campaign through the creation of a small group communication culture in the Kennedy administration, which, sustained and reinforced in the Johnson administration, became the motivating force behind the decisions to overtly escalate the war in July 1965. Ball asserts that this small group communication culture was formed by the convergence of such characteristics as the decision-making group's assembly effect, the group's reaction to situational demands, the sharing of dramatic communication, and normative behavior. The analysis is based on primary sources (many of them declassified through the author's efforts) from the Kennedy and Johnson Libraries, and on correspondence and interviews with advisors such as McGeorge Bundy, Robert S. McNamara, Walt W. Rostow, Dean Rusk, and James C. Thomson. Contrary to current literature, Ball uncovers that: Kennedy was not the "natural leader" of the Vietnam decision-making group, but became the leader in death that he had not been in life; the decision-makers' communication rooted them rhetorically to a combat position from which it seemed impossible to move; Johnson stalled on overt action in Vietnam and, rather than leading his advisors, was led by them; and the decisions to escalate the war emerged in a "context of discovery" in the Kennedy administration and then were rationalized in a "context ofjustification" in the Johnson administration. Vietnam-on-the-Potomac will prove invaluable to communication specialists, political scientists, and historians.
Title:Vietnam-on-the-potomacFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9.76 × 6.3 × 0.9 inPublished:April 1, 1992Publisher:Praeger Publishers

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0275938816

ISBN - 13:9780275938819

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Editorial Reviews

?Did President Kennedy, as military historian Newman convincingly but not conclusively writes, plan to withdraw from Vietnam once safely reelected? Making use of thousands of recently reclassified documents, Newman reveals that by the spring of 1963, Kennedy had not only planned to pull out, but had discussed this with two vociferous opponents of American commitment--Senators Mike Mansfield and Wayne Morse. Notably, Newman portrays two competing factors in the military, State and Defense Departments, operating in a politically charged atmosphere, generated a false, overly optimistic spin about the strength of the South Vietnamese army, which jeopardized attempts at rational policy development. This perceptive, challenging book contributes to the ongoing debate of Kennedy as cold warrior or visionary, and is a worthy addition for most public libraries. Conversely, Ball's study of group communications among key Kennedy and Johnson advisors views Kennedy as the chief architect of escalation. Both administrations suffered from poor communications and policy caused by conflict, confusion, and vacillation and by a perceived social reality of a "male-dominated war divided into heroes and villains." Ball fails to establish credible positive correlations between the words and actions of these policymakers. By removing communication from its political context and idiomatic usage, she at times arrives at obvious assumptions such as Johnson's conjuring up Wild West images to apply to communist leaders, or that loyalty to the assassinated Kennedy extended into the Johnson administration. While this study may be of possible use to specialized academic communications collections, all other librariescan pass.?-Library Journal