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Air Power's Lost Cause

Filling a substantial void in our understanding of the history of airpower in Vietnam, this book provides the first comprehensive treatment of the air wars in Vietnam. Brian Laslie traces the complete history of these air wars from the beginning of American involvement until final withdrawal. Detailing the competing roles and actions of the air elements of the United States Army, Navy, and Air Force, the author considers the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of war. He also looks at the air war from the perspective of the North Vietnamese Air Force. Most important for understanding the US defeat, Laslie illustrates the perils of a nation building a one-dimensional fighting force capable of supporting only one type of war.

Well-argued and readable.

--New York Times Book Review


In Air Power's Lost Cause, Brian Laslie offers an important and provocative argument that invites readers to reexamine the role of air power in the Vietnam War. Laslie places the entire air war in an intriguing new frame, making this book a must-read addition to the literature on air power and the Vietnam War.

-- Michael W. Hankins, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

A long-overdue, sweeping chronicle of US air operations over Southeast Asia during the American war in Vietnam. Laslie excels in demonstrating the promise—and ultimate failures—of airpower solving political problems overseas. A penetrating account demolishing the myth that air advocates could have ‘won’ the war in Vietnam if only given the chance.

-- Gregory A. Daddis, San Diego State University, author of Withdrawal: Reassessing America’s Final Years in Vietnam

A concise, incisive account of the chaotic air wars that the United States military waged over Vietnam in the 1960s. Laslie deftly explains how ambiguity in mission, doctrine, and command left the United States without a coherent air strategy, leading different services to fight at cross-purposes over the course of the conflict. His book is an excellent starting point for all those interested in the conflict, as well as for scholars looking for an integrated approach to the air wars.

-- Robert Farley, University of Kentucky

Brian Laslie climbs into the rarified air of authors who provide a truly new perspective on the aerial conflict over Southeast Asia. Packed with insightful analysis, reliant on valuable sources, and penned with cogent prose, Air Power’s Lost Cause is a fresh look at how air power came of age during the Vietnam War, yet still never made it quite to full maturity either. Simply one of the best books on the subject.

-- John Terino, USAF Air Command and Staff College

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