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

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

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 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.

Title:The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Steven Z.

    The popularity of the new film, “The Post” has refocused the attention of many people on the PENTAGON PAPERS and the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the history of the war commissioned by...

  • Hadrian

    Only a man could climb a ladder, and yet I couldn't think of it as a man like myself—it was as though an animal were moving in to kill, very quietly and certainly with the remorselessness of another...

  • Mike

    I’m not a fan of Max Boot the commentator but I shouldn’t let that affect my view on his book. Giving it 4 Stars, maybe a little generous but it is worth your time to learn more about Lansdale and...

  • Gavin

    I very much enjoyed this. Edward Lansdale's life is a tale of what might have been in Vietnam. The US off and on tries counter-insurgency or COIN, but Lansdale showed what was possible.It's too bad th...

  • D?c??r

    Splendid!...

  • David C Ward

    Quite good. A biography of the legendary counter insurgent Lansdale that is also a history and critique of American foreign policy. Could the war in Vietnam have ended differently if Lansdale had had ...

  • Marks54

    This is a clever and interesting book. I also understand what the author is trying to accomplish by structuring this biography around the “what if” questions around how the Vietnam war might have ...

  • Steve

    A very interesting book. Someone I never heard of before and this book peaked my interest. I have read books on the Vietnam War and read such classics as Harold Moore's We Were Soldiers Once and Young...

  • Dean

    Just more confirmation of the tragedy of wasted blood and treasure in Vietnam. Lansdale another dissenting voice ignored about how to fight and win a counter insurgency. Think we still would have lost...

  • Randy

    Any Goodreads member knows something about Ed Lansdale as he is thought by many to be the model for Graham Greene’s “Quiet American” (not true), Colonel Hillandale in “The Ugly American” (pr...