Buddha's Child: My Fight to Save Vietnam

Overview

The history of the Vietnam War has rarely been told from the Vietnamese perspective-and never by a leader of that country. In Buddha's Child, Nguyen Cao Ky reveals the remarkable story of his tumultuous tenure as Premier of South Vietnam, and offers unprecedented insight into the war's beginning, escalation, and heartbreaking end.

A thirty-four year old pilot and Air Force commander, known for his fighter-pilot's moustache, flowing lavender scarf and his reputation as a ladies' ...

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Buddha's Child: My Fight to Save Vietnam

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Overview

The history of the Vietnam War has rarely been told from the Vietnamese perspective-and never by a leader of that country. In Buddha's Child, Nguyen Cao Ky reveals the remarkable story of his tumultuous tenure as Premier of South Vietnam, and offers unprecedented insight into the war's beginning, escalation, and heartbreaking end.

A thirty-four year old pilot and Air Force commander, known for his fighter-pilot's moustache, flowing lavender scarf and his reputation as a ladies' man, Ky in 1965 agreed to lead South Vietnam after a series of coups had dangerously destabilized the nation. Ky's task was to unite a country riven by political, ethnic, and religious factions and undermined by corruption. With little experience in governing and none in international affairs, and while continuing to fly combat missions over Vietnam, Ky plunged into a war to save his homeland. He served as premier until 1967, continued to be active in the war after his resignation, and finally left Vietnam in 1975 during the fall of Saigon.

Buddha's Child offers Ky's perspective on the crucial events and memorable images of the Vietnam War: the coup against and execution of President Diem; the self-immolation by the Buddhist monk, and the radical Buddhists' attempt to topple Ky's government; the bloody and pivotal Tet Offensive; the shooting of a Vietcong prisoner, captured in one of the war's most notorious photographs; the Paris Peace talks that sold out South Vietnam; and the last, desperate days of Saigon. In frank language, Ky discusses his own successes and failures as a leader and dramatically relates the progress of the war as it unfolded on the ground and behind the scenes-including anecdotes about Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, William Westmoreland, Henry Cabot Lodge, William Colby, Henry Kissinger, and many others.

Buddha's Child is a revelatory, fascinating account of a nation at war by a most unusual man.

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Editorial Reviews

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: 9780312316037
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Nguyen Cao Ky lives in southern California.

Marvin J. Wolf is the author or coauthor of nine nonfiction books, including Where White Men Fear to Tread, the national bestselling memoir in collaboration with Native American activist Russell Means. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
1. Premier 1
2. Childhood 10
3. Soldier 23
4. Pilot 35
5. Wing Commander 42
6. Coup d'Etat 71
7. Young Turks 100
8. Prime Minister 126
9. Corruption 158
10. Crisis 183
11. High Noon 208
12. Elections 229
13. Tet 255
14. Diplomacy 275
15. Debacle 313
16. Exile 345
17. Fortune-Teller 361
Epilogue 372
Index 373
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2006

    Absolutely Terrific

    Having grown up in the post-Vietnam era, most of my information comes from the people who were there and from published works such as this. Ky has done a terrific job of laying out step for step why things happened in Vietnam the way they did. After reading this book, and seeing him in interviews during and not long after the conflict, I realize now that while a bit stuck on himself, Ky was very intelligent and a very good military man. This is a must read for anyone who wants to get away from the textbook version of events and learn more about the specifics of the Vietnam war.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    A Realistic View of the Vietnam War

    Although somewhat of an egotist, Ky has candidly written about the complexities of our involvement in Vietnam and why we lost the war. The former prime minister speaks of Thieu's self interest and corruption, the problems with the American media, how Thieu became president, and how the perception of Americans was not the reality of what was going on in Vietnam. In short, how we lost a war we should have won. This is a must read for any student of Vietnam (war veteran or war protester).

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