Readers who share a “revisionist” desire to understand the American intervention in Vietnam as a “lost victory” (as the CIA’s William Colby described it) will find a lot to like in Shaw’s book. But those looking for a more historical and contextual reading of Ngo Dinh Diem and the South Vietnam state he led may have to wait a while longer.
Edward Miller is associate professor of history at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam (2013, Harvard) and The Vietnam War: A Documentary Reader (2016, Wiley), as well as many articles and book chapters on the Vietnam War and modern Vietnamese history.
Posts by Edward Miller
The real Elvis is American, remember, and America is a consumer society. The desires we project, the stuff we buy—that is what feels real to us. It lets us have any Elvis we want. He left plenty of kitsch in his wake, plenty of pseudo-religion, plenty of Elvis jokes—but he was not, is not, a joke. He lived our contradictions, released our inhibitions, and lost himself in the process.