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Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972

Recorded on December 2, 2005

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Van Andel Center

In the four years General Creighton W. Abrams was Commander in Vietnam, he and his staff made more than 455 tape recordings of briefings and meetings. In 1994, with government approval, Lewis Sorley began transcribing and analyzing the tapes. This has produced a picture of the senior U.S. Commander in Vietnam and his associates working to prosecute a complex and challenging military campaign in an equally complex and difficult political context.

The concept of the nature of the war and the way it was conducted changed during Abrams's command. Progressive buildup of U.S. forces was reversed, and Abrams became responsible for turning the war back to the South Vietnamese.

These edited transcriptions clearly reflect those changes in policy and strategy. Included are briefings called the Weekly Intelligence Estimate Updates as well as meetings with many high-ranking officials. Vietnam Chronicles explores the difficult task that General Abrams accomplished with tact and skill.

During the Iraq War ... we have seen the media rush from one extreme to the other, offering both dire reports filled with pessimistic analysis and upbeat accounts heralding democracy triumphant. It is hard to know what the reality is at any given moment. The Vietnam War suffered famously from such home-front confusion, and from policy confusion too. Thus Vietnam Chronicles is especially welcome - for what it tells us about Vietnam, of course, but also for what it says about the myth-making and misperceptions that surround any war.... Anyone seriously interested in understanding war - any war, including the current one -- will want to sample the transcripts, not least for their vividness, real-time drama, and strategic insights. - James Schlesinger, Wall Street Journal