A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER In chronicling the adventurous life of legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale, The Road Not Taken definitively reframes our understanding of the Vietnam War. In this epic biography of Edward Lansdale (1908– 1987), the man said to be the fictional model for Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, best-selling historian Max Boot demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a “hearts and mind” diplomacy, first in the Philippines, then in Vietnam. It was a visionary policy that, as Boot reveals, was ultimately crushed by America’s giant military bureaucracy, steered by elitist generals and blueblood diplomats who favored troop build-ups and napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people. Through dozens of interviews and access to neverbefore-seen documentsincluding long-hidden love lettersBoot recasts this cautionary American story, tracing the bold rise and the crashing fall of the roguish “T. E. Lawrence of Asia” from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the humiliating American evacuation in 1975. Bringing a tragic complexity to this so-called “ugly American,” this “engrossing biography” (Karl Marlantes) rescues Lansdale from historical ignominy and suggests that Vietnam could have been different had we only listened. With reverberations that continue to play out in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Road Not Taken is a biography of profound historical consequence.
Max Boot is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a columnist for the Washington Post, and a global affairs analyst for CNN. His most recent book is the New York Times bestseller The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam.
Table of Contents
Dramatis Personae xv
Prologue: The Day of the Dead: Saigon, November 1-2, 1963 xxiii
Introduction: The Misunderstood Man xli
Part 1 Ad Man (1908-1945)
1 In Terrific Flux 3
2 Enfant Terrible 16
3 An Institution Run by Its Inmates 33
Part 2 Colonel Landslide (1945-1954)
4 The Time of His Life 47
5 In Love and War 65
6 The Knights Templar 87
7 "A Most Difficult and Delicate Problem" 104
8 "All-Out Force or All-Out Friendship" 118
9 The Power Broker 136
10 "A Real Vindication" 157
Part 3 Nation Builder (1954-1956)
11 La Guerre sans Fronts 171
12 A Fortress Falls 185
13 "I Am Ngo Dinh Diem" 196
14 The Chopstick Torture 214
15 Pacification 233
16 The Viper's Nest 254
17 "Stop Calling Me Papa!" 277
Part 4 Washington Warrior (1957-1963)
18 Heartbreak Hotel 301
19 Guerrilla Guru 311
20 A New War Begins 332
21 The Ambassador Who Never Was 347
22 "The X Factor" 363
23 "Worms of the World Unite" 376
24 "Washington at Its Nuttiest" 400
Part 5 Bastard Child (1964-1968)
25 "A Hell of a Mess" 419
26 "Concept for Victory" 433
27 Escalation 444
28 The Impossible Missions Force 457
29 Waging Peace in a Time of War 471
30 To Stay or to Go? 490
31 Waiting for the Second Coming 502
32 The Long Goodbye 515
Part 6 The Beaten Man (1968-1987)
33 The War at Home 533
34 A Defeat in Disguise 549
35 The Abandoned Ally 564
36 The Family Jewels 575
37 The End of the Road 586
Afterword: Lansdalism in the Twenty-First Century 599
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