Every Army Man Is with You by Nicolaus Mills

It is easy to misjudge a book by its cover. Every Army Man Is with You; The Cadets Who Won the 1964 Army-Navy Game, Fought in Vietnam, and Came Home Forever Changed by Nicolaus Mills (Rowman and Littlefield, 258 pp., $37) is no exception.

The football action scene depicted on the cover could lead a reader to believe that this is just a sports book. The thoroughly documented narrative, however, brings the reader so much more than the excitement of West Point football.

Nicolaus Mills moves the reader from the stadium bleachers into the minds and hearts of athletes who loved football and also loved their country.    Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall, during World War II, said: “I want an officer for secret and dangerous mission. I want a West Point football player.”  Every Army Man is with You provides insight into what those words meant during the Vietnam War.

The author, a Sarah Lawrence College American Studies professor, follows the careers of seven men from West Point from the mid-sixties to the present. Early on he provides a list of military academy gridiron notables beginning with Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur. All are USMA graduates, except Roger Staubach, who went to the United States Naval Academy. Staubach was the nemesis of the 1964 West Point team.

The Army- Navy game that year was the first Army victory over Navy in six years. The book contains many quotes that make interesting reading because they provide insights into the Army players on and off the field.

Eisenhower, for example, said: “It would be difficult to overemphasize the importance I attach to participation in sports,” and “I so loved the fierce bodily contact of football that I suppose my enthusiasm made up somewhat for my lack of size.” This from a man of 152 pounds.

The chapter on Gen. William Westmoreland contains an excellent summary of his military career. Westmoreland also noted the importance of football at West Point. “It is my conviction that West Point should strive for excellence in every endeavor,” he said. “This applies to academics, military duties, extracurricular activities, and athletics—not to exclude football.”

Nicolaus Mills

While the football theme flows through the entire book, this reader was amazed by the amount of enlightening military and political history the author included. The interaction between MacArthur and Westmoreland when the latter served as superintendent of West Point provides insight into the character of both men. Mills also includes a short conversation between John F. Kennedy and MacArthur in 1961 about the approaching war in Southeast Asia.

In the sections that cover the history of the Vietnam War Mills does not spend a lot of time detailing battles. But he still provides a clear picture of the dedication and suffering many soldiers lived with on a daily basis. The follow-up of each man’s return from the war clearly depicts the life changes they experienced.

For sports fans, Mills concludes with a brief history of Army football.That includes a review of the infamous 1951 cheating scandal that severely damaged the team. Mills also relates how many West Point men became critical of the U.S. policy of body counts as a measurement of success in the Vietnam War.

This book is easy to follow, concise, heartfelt, and blends history with the great sport of football. The author is clear, however, that football is a game, and war is not.

—Joseph Reitz

A Monument to Deceit by C. Michael Hiam

C. Michael Hiam’s A Monument to Deceit: Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars, first published in 2006 under the title Who the Hell Are We Fighting? The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars, has been recently republished in paperback (ForeEdge, 352 pp., $24.95).

Hiam’s subject is what happened after Vietnam War CIA analyst Sam Adams discovered in 1968 that the U.S. was facing a Viet Cong army that was significantly larger than what other intelligence analysts believed—mainly because, Adams contended, Commanding General William Westmoreland pressured the top U.S. military leaders to overstate enemy casualty figures to make it appear that progress was being made in the war.

Kept quiet at the time, the issue burst into the national consciousness in 1982 when CBS TV aired the documentary “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception,” in which Adams told his story. Adams and CBS accused Westmoreland of leading a conspiracy to misrepresent enemy troop strength. In 1984 Westmoreland filed a $120-million libel lawsuit against CBS. At the very last moment, just as the trial was about to go to jury, Westmoreland dropped the suit, and CBS issued a statement standing by its claims, but saying it never meant to say that the general was unpatriotic.

In his book, Hiam tells Adams’ compelling life story, complete with blow-by-blow accounts of his muckraking at the CIA, and fascinating details of the CBS-Westmoreland trial, which some people called “the libel trial of the century.” Adams died in 1988.

Sam Adams in 1984

Hiam makes a case Adams was correct—and General Westmoreland was guilty as charged. The death and destruction that resulted from the 1968 Tet Offensive (including the deaths of 3,895 American military personnel), as well as the American public’s turn against the war after it was over, Hiam says, became “the legacy of Westmoreland’s intelligence operation at MACV.”

Hiam characterizes that as “a legacy of providing estimates that were born of political expediency, and a legacy that, as Sam Adams would try to tell his fellow Americans over the next two decades, fatally undercut all of the sacrifices that they had made in Vietnam.”

—Marc Leepson