Anatomy of Victory: Why the United States Triumphed in World War II, Fought to a Stalemate in Korea, Lost in Vietnam, and Failed in Iraq

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This book claims that since World War II, America has fought three other major wars in Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq; surprisingly Afghanistan is missing. The work introduces “strategic architecture” that broadly encompass policy, strategy, and operations. The overarching message is that wars are won if these three aspects are aligned. The book starts with World War II and uses it as a benchmark to gage other wars discussed later. It seems that the underlying premise is that after World War II, the other wars did not have alignment and, therefore, poor strategic architecture. Apart from the introductory and concluding sections, there is a section devoted to each of the above conflicts. Each section has several chapters that focus on the tactical aspects of the conflict and a final chapter that briefly discusses the strategic architectural aspects of that conflict.

While the historical narrative of battle tactics is useful, the analysis and subsequent conclusions may not always be convincing to all readers. Major areas that need to be addressed may include whether or not World War II is an appropriate benchmark for all other conflicts. While World War II was a conflict involving undisputed sovereign governments; the other conflicts did not always have sovereign governments. Some readers may question if all aspects were considered when analyzing strategical elements of the conflict. For instance, nationalism could be considered a major factor in the Vietnam war, but it is barely mentioned in this work. Corruption and ineffective governance in Vietnam and Iraq arguably hindered military success in those regions, which is overlooked in this work. Was victory achieved due to good planning or major enemy blunders? Arguably the Allies won World War II because Germany decided to invade the Soviet Union. The statistics provided do not delve into enough granularity to warrant some of the conclusions drawn. For instance, statistics on the number of people captured in Iraq do not distinguish between bonafide combatants and civilians, and no statistics on American losses are provided.

Asking why wars are won or lost is a meaningful question. However, when asking that question, one must take into consideration all factors and provide justification for why certain factors do not impact one conflict but are relevant to others. The book narrates tactical operations well, but could delve deeper in analyzing the strategic aspects of each conflict.


Reviewed By:

Author John D. Caldwell
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 568 pages
Publisher Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date 2018-11-09
ISBN 9781538114773
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue Mar-19
Category History
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