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Buddha's Child: My Fight to Save Vietnam

Overview

Even after 25 years in America, former South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky is regarded as a national hero by three million fellow expatriots. He travels widely in the US and abroad, and is recognized and applauded by former US servicemen, to whom he remains a charismatic and admirable figure.

Buddha's Child will flood the shadowy corners of South Vietnam's Byzantine political world with the bright light of truth. Ky will describe the ...

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Overview

Even after 25 years in America, former South Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Cao Ky is regarded as a national hero by three million fellow expatriots. He travels widely in the US and abroad, and is recognized and applauded by former US servicemen, to whom he remains a charismatic and admirable figure.

Buddha's Child will flood the shadowy corners of South Vietnam's Byzantine political world with the bright light of truth. Ky will describe the Americans and their activities from the perspective of the Vietnamese patriot.

Condemned by US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara as "the absolute bottom of the barrel," Ky was not expected to survive a week in the office into which he was thrust. Instead, he lasted three years, until he wrote himself out of office by penning the country's first constitution.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The one man who knew how to defeat the communists in Vietnam in the 1960s and '70s and had the wherewithal to do so was Nguyen Cao Ky, the South Vietnamese Air Force general who was the unelected prime minister of that nation from 1965 to 1967 and vice president from 1967 to 1971. But Ky was thwarted by venal, incompetent and corrupt South Vietnamese politicians especially his successor, Nguyen Van Thieu, by the evil, double-dealing Vietnamese communists, and by wishy-washy, ignorant American political and military leaders. That's the version Ky presents in this self-serving, self-aggrandizing memoir. Ky says his plan to lead an invasion of North Vietnam in 1966, which "would have ended the war," was squelched by timid Johnson administration officials. His plans to introduce democracy were continually beaten back by his political enemies, including Buddhist leaders who Ky says acted as little more than communist dupes. Ky whitewashes his government's excesses, which included a violent crackdown on the protesting Buddhists, heavy-handed intimidation of the press and of his political enemies. Ky (with the aid of veteran author Wolf) provides an insider's look at the political machinations within South Vietnam during the American war. But that view is shown through his vehemently anticommunist and egocentric lens. In addition, his explanation of the most portentous event in his political life allowing his political archenemy Thieu to be nominated as the military directorate's candidate for president in 1967 is stupefyingly unbelievable. Ky claims that the reason he gave his blessing to Thieu to become president "remains a great mystery, even to me." That mystery led to Ky's political downfall and to eight years of a corrupt, ineffectual Thieu-led South Vietnamese regime. (May 8) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
attention. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An insightful memoir by the former prime minister of South Vietnam. "Most Americans thought of me as a young, flamboyant pilot, a playboy partial to purple scarves, a bon vivant who wore his hair too long," writes Ky (with the help of frequent ghost Wolf). But it's clear from these pages that he was a man of more substance than that: committed to social justice and the rooting out of corruption, a Jimmy Carter–like character who after leaving office in 1968 set up South Vietnam's first modern farm, modeled on the Israeli kibbutz. In his fights against entrenched interests, Ky often had to fly solo; though he is gentlemanly, he harbors a special scorn for his successor, Nguyen Thieu, whose "salary as a senior general and then president never came to more than a few thousand dollars" but who "went into exile a few days before the end of the war with so many tens of millions of dollars that President Gerald Ford sent word that he was not welcome to live in the United States." Ky is also none too complimentary about the CIA spooks and American embassy staff who tried to steer things their way and, he charges, deliberately sabotaged the war effort by refusing to offer support to South Vietnamese army units during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Ky speaks up in defense of the much-maligned South Vietnamese army, which did not enjoy the material wealth of its supposed American allies, and for Nguyen Ngoc Loan, "the rarest of South Vietnamese birds, the honest cop," who will be forever remembered for the photo showing him shooting a suspected Viet Cong guerrilla: "In the click of a shutter, our struggle for independence and self-determination was transformed into an image of a seemingly senseless andbrutal execution." Modest and keenly detailed, a welcome contribution to the literature of the Vietnam War. Author tour
From the Publisher
"Ky's story provides an interesting picture of the man who ruled the tail that wagged the American dog in the mid-1960s."—Peter Ross Range, The Washington Post Book World

"Insightful . . . Modest and keenly detailed, a welcome contribution to the literature of the Vietnam War."—Kirkus Reviews

"A remarkable, fascinating read. An unbelievably candid yet credible account of the tortured U.S./Vietnam relationship, and the incompetence and corruption of many of the senior Vietnamese leaders. Buddha's Child reveals previously unpublished incidents of significant importance. Students of the French and American Wars in Vietnam will find this hard-hitting book difficult to put down."—Harold G. Moore, Lt. General, U.S. Army (Ret.), and coauthor of We Were Soldiers Once . . . and Young

"Nguyen Cao Ky reveals what went on behind the scenes at the highest levels of the Saigon and Washington governments: the coup d'état, the secret deals, the rivalries and intrigues, the revolts, the astonishing greed and corruption of his fellow generals, the conspiracies and betrayals, and, ultimately, the tears. Intimate, honest, and revealing on every page, this is a necessary piece of the history for all who want to know what really went on at the top."—Jack Laurence, former CBS News correspondent and author of The Cat from Hue: A Vietnam War Story

"[Ky] makes a case too remarkable to doubt. His take on America's role in Vietnam makes too much sense to dismiss . . . Honest criticism from an informed ally is well worth our attention."—Ron Honig, Santa Cruz Sentinel

"Against the background of the war, and expressions of his patriotism, Ky's recollections will certainly contribute to assessments of South Vietnam's viability and fate."—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

"Ky provides an insider's look at the political machinations within South Vietnam during the American war."—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593350567
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 6/10/2004
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 1 MP3-CD, 12 hrs.
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 7.46 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Nguyen Cao Ky was the Prime Minister of South Vietnam for three years, until he wrote himself out of office by penning his nation's first constitution. The intimate of Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Bob McNamara, and other American leaders, he has lived in the US for 25 years.

Marvin J. Wolf, who photographed Ky for the US Army in Vietnam in 1965, is the author of nine books, including the bestselling biography of American Indian leader Russell Means, Where White Men Fear To Tread (1995).

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