Lewis Stone "Bob" Sorley III (born August 3, 1934) is an American intelligence analyst and military historian. His books about the U.S. war in Vietnam, in which he served as an officer, have been highly influential in government circles.

Lewis Sorley
Headshot of Dr. Lewis Sorley
Born (1934-08-03) August 3, 1934 (age 85)
EducationPh.D., Johns Hopkins University
Alma materHarvard University
Army War College
Scientific career


Lewis Sorley was born in 1934, in West Point, New York, the son and grandson of officers in the United States Army who were both also West Point graduates.[1] Sorley became an Eagle Scout in San Antonio, Texas in 1950 and was presented the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2009.[2] He received his high school education at Texas Military Institute, where he is listed as a distinguished graduate,[3] and was admitted to the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Engineering in 1956.[4]

From August to December, 1956, he attended Armor Officer Basic Course, Fort Knox, Kentucky. In January, 1957, he attended Parachute and Jumpmaster Courses, Fort Benning, Georgia. From February through October he was assigned to Company H, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Meade, Maryland as a Reconnaissance Platoon Leader. Then he was promoted to Company Commander.[3] In October, he went with an advance party (Operation Gyroscope, in which the entire regiment went to Germany, taking the place of another regiment there that came back to Fort Meade) as Executive Officer (XO) of Company H, a part of the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Amberg, West Germany.[3] From October 1957 to June 1960 he served with 3rd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, in Amberg as XO of Company H, a tank platoon leader in Tank Company and Squadron S-4 (Supply Officer). From June 1960 to June 1961 he commanded A Company, 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Knox, Kentucky.[3] From June 1961 until May 1962, he attended the Armor Officer Advance Course at The Armor School, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

In 1963, he received a Master of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania.[3] From 1963 to 1966 he served at the United States Military Academy as an instructor and assistant professor in the Department of English. From 1966 to 1967 he served as Executive Officer, 1st Tank Battalion, 69th Armor, U.S. Army in the Republic of Vietnam.[4] From 1968 to 1970 he served as Assistant Secretary of the General Staff, Office of the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.[3] In 1971 and 1972 he was Commander, 2nd Tank Battalion, 37th Armor, U.S. Army, Erlangen, West Germany. In 1973 he joined the faculty of the U.S. Army War College[4] as the Program Director in the Department of Military Planning and Strategy. While there, he completed a Master of Public Administration at Pennsylvania State University. He also attended Harvard University and the U.S. Naval War College.[4] In 1975 he became the Senior Military Assistant to the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he served for two years.

In 1976, he retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he became the Chief of the Policy and Plans Division, Intelligence Community Staff.[2] In 1978 he became a Senior Inspector in the Office of Inspector General. In 1979 he was appointed Chief of Audit Support and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in National Security Policy from Johns Hopkins University.[4] In 1982 he was appointed Office Director and Program Manager, National Intelligence Emergency Support Office where he served until 1983.

He was associated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 1984-1985 and is a member of the advisory council of National Defense Intelligence College as well as the International Institute for Strategic Studies.[4]

Sorley's 2004 book Vietnam Chronicles: the Abrams Tapes won the Army Historical Foundation's Trefry Award for providing "a unique perspective on the art of command".[2] His 2008 book Honor Bright: History and Origins of the West Point Honor Code and System points out the similarities between the West Point motto of "Duty, Honor, Country" and the Boy Scouts of America's Scout Oath, stating that each may have influenced the other, pointing out that last part of the Scout Oath was once part of the Cadet Prayer: "...physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."[2]

Awards and AccomplishmentsEdit

  • Whoís Who in America 2001–present
  • Distinguished Graduate, United States Military Academy[5]
  • Outstanding Alumnus, Army War College[6]
  • Distinguished Eagle Scout
  • Distinguished Writing Award, Army Historical Foundation[7]
  • Goodpaster Prize, American Veterans Center[8]
  • Trefry Prize, Army Historical Foundation[9]
  • Gold Medallion, Order of St. George, United States Armor Association
  • Distinguished Book Award, Army Historical Foundation
  • Peterson Prize, Best Scholarly Article on American Military History[10]
  • Distinguished Graduate, Texas Military Institute[3]
  • Distinguished Graduate, School of Naval Command & Staff
  • Pi Alpha Alpha, National Honorary Society for Public Administration
  • Freedoms Foundation, George Washington Honor Medal
  • Distinguished Member of the Regiment, 37th Armor
  • Emeritus Director of the Army Historical Foundation[11]
  • Executive Director Emeritus of the Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States[11]
  • Interviewed for Ken Burns's series The Vietnam War

Faculty AppointmentsEdit

A Better War and Afghanistan debate in the White HouseEdit

Sorley wrote A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam which was published in 1999.[1] The book describes an escalating war with the Lyndon B. Johnson White House viewing the conflict too narrowly to see pitfalls of the war. The book was read by Deputy National Security Advisor Thomas E. Donilon, one of the major foreign policy advisors in the White House who gave the book to Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff. President Barack Obama has stated that he has read the book as has Vice President Joseph Biden. The book has been compared to a contrasting book, Lessons in Disaster, which is widely read by military leaders. The Wall Street Journal reported the reading of the book by officials at the highest level of government and that it influenced the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.[2][12]

Selected worksEdit

  • Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. ISBN 9780547518268 OCLC 694830152
  • Sorley, Lewis, editor. The Vietnam War: An Assessment by South Vietnam's Generals. Lubbock, Tex: Texas Tech University Press, 2010. ISBN 9780896726437 OCLC 262883089
  • Honor Bright: History and Origins of the West Point Honor Code and System. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2008. ISBN 9780073537788
  • Vietnam Chronicles: the Abrams Tapes, 1968-1972. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2004. ISBN 0896725332 OCLC 54391939
  • A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam. Orlando: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. ISBN 0151002665 OCLC 40609184
  • Honorable Warrior: General Harold K. Johnson and the Ethics of Command. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999. ISBN 0700608869 OCLC 38043059
  • Thunderbolt: General Creighton Abrams and the Army of His Times. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. ISBN 0671701150 OCLC 25549278
  • Arms Transfers Under Nixon: A Policy Analysis. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1981 ISBN 978-0813104041 OCLC 973117620


  1. ^ a b "Celebrate Freedom 2002 Speaker Biographies". University of Tennessee. 2006. Retrieved 2010-04-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ray, Mark (Spring 2010). "A Future In The Past: Lewis Sorley and America's Wars". Eagle Scout Magazine. Irving, TX: National Eagle Scout Association. 30 (1): 8–9.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Distinguished Cadet Alumni from TMI-The Episcopal School of Texas". www.tmi-sa.org.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Sorley, Lewis". Read North Dakota. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  5. ^ "West Point Association of Graduates". www.westpointaog.org. US Military Academy. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  6. ^ "'Still-serving' alumni honored during USAWC birthday celebration". www.army.mil. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  7. ^ "AWARDS ANNOUNCED FOR EXCELLENCE IN U.S. ARMY HISTORY WRITING" (PDF). The Army Historical Foundation, Inc. June 4, 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  8. ^ Center, American Veterans. "Fifth Annual Andrew J. Goodpaster Prize to be Awarded". www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  9. ^ "2011 SACEI Man of the Year" (PDF). Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Lewis "Bob" Sorley, PhD". The William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Lewis Sorley - Foreign Policy Research Institute". Foreign Policy Research Institute. Foreign Policy Research Institute. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  12. ^ Wall Street Journal, A Battle of Two Books Rages, October 7, 2009, p. A1.

External linksEdit