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

Max Boot

In this epic biography of legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale (1908–1987), the man said to be the fictional model for Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, military historian Max Boot (Invisible Armies, 2012) demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a “hearts and minds” diplomacy, first in the Philippines, and then in Vietnam. It was a visionary policy that was ultimately crushed by America’s military bureaucracy, who favored troop build-ups and napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people. Boot argues that ignoring Lansdale’s advice was a big reason the Vietnam War turned out to be a disaster.