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Book details
  • Genre:HISTORY
  • SubGenre:Military / Vietnam War
  • Language:English
  • Series title:General Earle Wheeler
  • Series Number:2
  • Pages:544
  • eBook ISBN:9781667800400
  • Paperback ISBN:9781667800394

Determined to Persist

General Earle Wheeler, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Military’s Foiled Pursuit of Victory in Vietnam

by Colonel Mark A. Viney View author's profile page

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Determined to Persist takes readers inside the White House, the Pentagon, and the U.S. military headquarters in Hawaii and South Vietnam. Based on exclusive contemporaneous correspondence, recently declassified top-secret documents, interviews with participants, and their memoirs, Determined to Persist traces the internal debates, tensions, and critical inflection points in the Vietnam War during an extraordinary six-year period.

The longest serving Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Earle G. Wheeler was the senior military advisor to Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon. In disgust with their administrations' disastrous Vietnam War policies, Wheeler shredded his memoirs. He died three years later. In consequence, a gaping hole has existed in the historiography of the Vietnam War -- until now.

Using exclusive documents from the Wheeler family and others recently declassified, Determined to Persist overturns long-held, inaccurate perceptions of civilian-military relations during the Vietnam era and provides a fuller, more accurate representation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's role in the Vietnam War.


Approximating the viewpoint that General Earle Wheeler would have provided, Determined to Persist restores voice to this key foreign policy advisor to three U.S. Presidents who has remained an enigma for 46 years.

Although Lyndon Johnson was perhaps the most intimidating President to occupy the Oval Office, Wheeler was undaunted and openly resisted Johnson's Vietnam War policies, both publicly and behind the scenes. Between June 1965 and January 1969, Wheeler led his Joint Chiefs of Staff colleagues to advocate a more aggressive, offensive strategy toward victory over North Vietnam. Determined to Persist details for the first time the centerpiece of Wheeler's strategy -- a heretofore obscure, top-secret plan to invade North Vietnam. 

Determined to Persist also details the Chiefs' decision to resign en masse after Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara betrayed them before Congress, a decision some of them later officially denied. Initially in league with his colleagues, Wheeler dissuaded them, and they soldiered on.

Determined to Persist reveals the depth of Wheeler's determination to present military advice to the unreceptive Johnson Administration, which did not solicit and often dismissed out of hand the military's independent recommendations, and later to the more receptive but politically constrained Nixon Administration.

Not only does Determined to Persist comprehensively detail what Wheeler, the Chiefs, and other senior military officers recommended to the President and Secretary of Defense, but more importantly, it explains why.

Determined to Persist conclusively disproves the misperception that Wheeler and the Chiefs failed to warn their civilian bosses of the probable negative military consequences of presidential decisions made contrary to their recommendations.

Remaining objective, Determined to Persist does not argue that the military had a panacea that could have won the war had the President and Secretary of Defense given them freer rein. While the expanded offensive operations the military recommended may have increased the likelihood of success, they may also have widened the war unacceptably and certainly would have raised the death toll, increased spending, inflamed the antiwar movement, and would not have changed the war's negative outcome for the United States. The increased costs associated with the military's recommendations were too much for the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, and therein lies the reason why many of the military's recommendations were rejected or not adopted in-full. It was not a matter that Wheeler and Chiefs failed to effectively articulate their recommendations and state probable military consequences of presidential decisions. They certainly did, as Determined to Persist proves.

About the author

Colonel Mark A. Viney retired from the U.S. Army in 2021 after serving 35 years in uniform.  He is the founder of Viney Development Solutions, LLC, providing nonfiction books and public speaking on historical, national security, and leadership development topics, plus executive and talent development coaching, leadership development instruction, and historical tours.

A former Director of the U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center, Mark earned a Bachelor of Science in History from the United States Military Academy and a dual Master of Arts in Human Resources Development and Public Administration from Webster University.  He served five years on the U.S. Army War College staff and completed its Defense Strategy Course.

Mark has lectured on Vietnam War strategy at the U.S. Army War College, Texas Tech Vietnam Center & Archive, Army Heritage Center Foundation, and elsewhere.  His white paper, Insights from the Vietnam Withdrawal for the Afghanistan Drawdown, influenced senior Allied leaders in Kabul and informed a private discussion between the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander, International Security & Assistance Force. 

Mark offers unique perspective and the latest research on Vietnam War strategy in his groundbreaking, two-volume series: General & Mrs. Earle Wheeler: Their Rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Amid America’s Descent into Vietnam, and Determined to Persist: General Earle Wheeler, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Military’s Foiled Pursuit of Victory in Vietnam

Mark’s first book is United States Cavalry Peacekeepers in Bosnia: An Inside Account of Operation Joint Endeavor, 1996.  He received an Admiral George C. Dyer Award from Officer Review magazine for his World War I article, Journey to the Front.

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