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The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam

de Max Boot

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2034133,407 (4.31)6
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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 never before-seen documents??including long-hidden love letters??Boot 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… (mais)

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Exibindo 4 de 4
I was enjoying this book but it was kind of a placeholder while I waited for other books to be ready. As a history enthusiast this book is fascinating because it provides a more detailed account about America's involvement in the Vietnam War but I found it to be too long. I think it gets bogged down in the smaller details of Ed Lansdale's life. I may go back and finish it in the future. ( )
  wolfe.myles | Feb 28, 2023 |
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography
  ashlyn621 | Dec 7, 2022 |
This book is both a biography of Edward Lansdale, and a history of the development and practice of counterinsurgency tactics by the United States. Its thesis: If the US had combined more "civic action" with more low intensity military operations (instead of search and destroy with massive artillery and air strikes) in Vietnam, as was done in the Philippines against the Huk rebellion (which was defeated) the US may have prevailed. The thesis is arguable, but not provable by any means. But Boot lays out his case in great detail, enough to see the flaws in our Vietnam strategy, which were avoided in the Philipinnes. Lansdale, who was a military officer seconded to the CIA, rose to the rank of Major General, and was considered the father of US counterinsurgency doctrine. It is the best, the best researched, and most complete book on US counterinsurgency that I have read. Want more from Boot? "Invisible Armies" on the same subject but wider scope, published in 2013. ( )
  Pieter_Cramerus | Nov 23, 2019 |
A biography of Edward Lansdale, military/CIA man in the Philippines and then Vietnam, with a side trip to helping plan Castro’s overthrow (though he was apparently not involved with the exploding cigar plot, he did throw out some other bizarre ideas, like a light show to convince the populace that the Second Coming was imminent). Lansdale was a hard-core anticommunist, but one convinced that the alternatives offered to people in Asia had to be democratic and anti-corruption. He advised leaders to train the military to help, not terrorize, the civilian populace and to hold free elections. He didn’t always succeed, and even his success (the Philippines) wasn’t lasting, but Boot makes a compelling case that if his methods had been more influential in Vietnam, the cost in human lives and suffering would have been much lower even if the Communists had ultimately still won. ( )
1 vote rivkat | Aug 30, 2018 |
Exibindo 4 de 4
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History. Nonfiction. HTML:

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 never before-seen documents??including long-hidden love letters??Boot 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

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