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JAMES S. ROBBINS is Deputy Editor of Rare and a member of USA Today’s board of contributors. He is the author of This Time We Win: Rethinking the Tet Offensive and Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point, both from Encounter Books. Dr. Robbins holds a PhD and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, Massachusetts. He also has master’s and bachelor’s degrees in political science from the University of Cincinnati. He has taught at The Fletcher School, Boston University, Marine Corps University, National Defense University, and other schools. He served in government for ten years, and was awarded the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award. He is also a recipient of the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association first prize award for editorials.
Are you an American? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, increasing numbers of people are claiming “American” as their national ancestry. In our melting pot of cultures, they are taking a stand as authentic representatives of the American nation.
Most of what Americans have heard about the Tet Offensive is wrong. The brief battles in early 1968 during the Vietnam conflict marked the dividing line between gradual progress toward possible victory and slow descent to a humiliating defeat.
Today’s Goat, the West Point cadet finishing at the bottom of his class, is temporary celebrity among his classmates. But in the 19th century, he was something of a cult figure. Custer’s contemporaries at the Academy believed that the same spirit of adventure that led him to carouse at local taverns motivated his dramatic cavalry attacks in the Civil War and afterwards.