The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon by Timothy Lomperis | Books in Review

Timothy Lomperis, a political science professor at Saint Louis University, is the author of three well-regarded books dealing with the Vietnam War: The War Everyone Lost—and Won (1984), a political history of the war; Reading the Wind (1987, with John Clark Pratt), an account of a 1985 Vietnam War literature conference sponsored by the Asia Society; and From People’s War to People’s Rule (1996), an analytical history.

Lomperis’s new book, The Vietnam War from the Rear Echelon: An American Officer’s Memoir, 1972-1973 (University of Kansas, 272 pp., $34.95), is a combination memoir and history/analysis of the American War in Vietnam. In it, Lomperis concentrates on  the period of time he worked in Vietnam as an low-ranking officer at MACV headquarters (March of 1972 to January of 1973) and as a DIA civilian intelligence analyst (from February to August of 1973.)

“I view the Vietnam War as much like a Greek tragedy, with a protagonist who makes a heroic attempt to cheat fate, despite its inevitability, ” he writes in the book’s Preface. “If there is an overall thesis to this book, it is that it was in 1972 and 1973, in the twin events of the [NVA’s] Easter Invasion and the Paris Peace Agreement, that the war’s tragic fate was sealed, a view that can be most clearly seen at [the] REMF level.”

Lomperis, who received his Ph.D. from Duke University in 1981 and has taught at the U.S. Military Academy, deftly handles the personal and the political and historical in this well-written and valuable book.

—Marc Leepson


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