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Publisher's Summary

Since 1972, the United States Air Force has argued that its operations against North Vietnam were unsuccessful primarily through a combination of civilian interference and poor strategic choices. Often citing the "success" of Operation Linebacker II as an example of what might have been had its leaders been given free rein, for almost 40 years, the Air Force has maintained that its proper employment is the key to winning America's wars.
In Barren SEAD, award-winning historian James L. Young, Jr., propagates a different theory: Instead of being a sign of what the Air Force was capable of, Linebacker II was a bitter failure that starkly outlined the USAF's limitations. Furthermore, instead of the meddling of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, this defeat was brought about by Air Force leaders' refusal to develop a Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) doctrine from 1953-1972. Relying primarily on Air Force archival documents, memoirs, and contemporary doctrinal publications, Young illustrates just how dangerous the Air Force's failure to nurture its SEAD capability was during this period of the Cold War.
©2015 James Young (P)2015 James Young
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Charles on 11-12-15

Very captivating book

In this excellent book award winning historian James L Young JR gives his theory of what the The Unitet States Air Force has argued since 1972.

The book is really captivating, I just couldn't stop listening to this book

Even people who haven't got much insight into US Air Force nor history can have advantages of this book as it's told in a manner that is understandable for everyone

I really enjoyed the book

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kingsley on 11-16-15

A Technical Report

While I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure that I am the right audience for it. To me it seems that it is less a 'book' and more of a report or analysis and is more geared towards an academic audience rather than the casual reader. Reasonably technical in nature, and assuming of some basic military understanding (it doesn't stop to break down all the three letter acronyms it uses) and US military history the book/report analyses the USAF strategic and from the end of the Korean War through most of the Vietnam War.

This is not a entry level history book, as it assumes knowledge of the military actions of the period. It's not entry level for USAF, as it assumes knowledge of some military technology etc. But I don't feel these are high hurdles, and it is certainly not a extremely high level analysis. Assuming you have some understanding and knowledge on these two items, and have an interest in the subject, then this book has a great deal going for it and some great information

In short, it goes through the variety of strategies (or lack thereof) that USAF tried, as well as the details of the fighters used by both USAF and their opponents. The basic premise boils down to the USAF's belief that bombers would be the main air assault weapons, as they were in World War 2, rather than dog fights between fighters. This resulted in fighters being made to certain requirements (like having a few missiles and bombs but no inbuilt machine gun) that didn't actually match what was happening in the combat zones.


Narrator Kevin Spalding does a good job. With his military background he easily able to discuss the technical aspects and he comes across knowing what he is talking about. He is easy to listen to and understand. Clear and concise.

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