Admiral Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr., the charismatic chief of naval operations (CNO) and "the navy's most popular leader since WWII" (Time), was a man who embodied honor, courage, and commitment. In a career spanning forty years, he rose to the top echelon of the U.S. Navy as a commander of all navy forces in Vietnam and then as CNO from 1970 to 1974. His tenure came at a time of scandal and tumult, from the Soviets' challenge to the U.S. for naval supremacy and a duplicitous endgame in Vietnam to Watergate and an admirals' spy ring.
Unlike many other senior naval officers, Zumwalt successfully enacted radical change, including the integration of the most racist branch of the militaryan achievement that made him the target of bitter personal recriminations. His fight to modernize a technologically obsolete fleet pitted him against such formidable adversaries as Henry Kissinger and Hyman Rickover. Ultimately, Zumwalt created a more egalitarian navy as well as a smaller modernized fleet better prepared to cope with a changing world.
But Zumwalt's professional success was marred by personal loss, including the unwitting role he played in his son's death from Agent Orange. Retiring from the service in 1974, Zumwalt spearheaded a citizen education and mobilization effort that helped thousands of Vietnam veterans secure reparations. That activism earned him the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Today Zumwalt's tombstone at the U.S. Naval Academy is inscribed with one word: "Reformer." Admiring yet evenhanded, Larry Berman's moving biography reminds us what leadership is and pays tribute to a man whose life reflected the best of America itself.
About the Author
Larry Berman is a professor of political science at the
Larry Berman is a professor of political science at the University of California, Davis, and the author of three welUniversity of California, Davis, and the author of three well-received books on Vietnam, including "No Peace, No Honor: l-received books on Vietnam, including "No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam". He made more thaNixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam". He made more than a dozen trips to Vietnam in the course of writing this boon a dozen trips to Vietnam in the course of writing this book. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Davis, k. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Davis, California. California.
“A splendid biography of an extraordinary leader who commanded U.S. naval forces in Vietnam and as Chief of Naval Operations dragged the Navy into the twentieth century. The chapter on Zumwalt’s war against the paranoiac secrecy of the Nixon White House is a gem of historical research and analysis.”
-George C. Herring, author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975
“An engaging and highly readable portrait of one of the Navy’s truly transformative figures and arguably the most innovative and controversial CNOs of the Cold War era.”
-Ronald H. Spector, Professor of History and International Affairs, The George Washington University
“Zumwalt was a visionary whose charismatic brand of leadership was grounded in an unflinching dedication coupled with a belief that barriers to equality and progress have no place in America. This volume is rich with moving details from countless individuals who were inspired by his integrity and courage.”
-Thurgood Marshall Jr.
” Zumwalt was an iconic figure for generations of sailors who served under his command or who were motivated by his example. His dedication to his country and the US Navy was a model for those who want to serve.”
-Adm. Mike Mullen, 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
“ZUMWALT may be Larry Berman’s best book on Vietnam. Exhaustively researched, beautifully written, here is the war through the prism of one of America’s greatest officers. I loved it and learned from it. Read it.”
-Marvin Kalb, Edward R. Murrow Professor Emeritus at Harvard and co-author of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama.
“Bud Zumwalt was a fearless leader. He was also a fascinating, thoughtful and brilliant sailor. I learned a lot about leadership from him over the years - so will you when you read ZUMWALT.”
-Donna E. Shalala
“This is a fine tribute to a man of high achievement and character.”
You can’t understand today’s Navy without acknowledging Zumwalt’s role in modernizing its technology and renewing its soul. He believed in a Navy worthy of our nation...those who chose to serve in it were deserving of respect and dignity. Zumwalt is the story of a true American hero.
-President Bill Clinton