For nine years at the height of the Cold War, America’s global crusade against communism rested on the shoulders of Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. Hailed as a “miracle man” who brought the blessings of democracy and development to South Vietnam, Diem became a celebrity. But his miracles had a steep price. As his regime soaked up millions of dollars in American aid and military support, it ruthlessly suppressed its enemies, devastated villages, and failed to cope with a rising communist insurgency. As the Diem experiment began to absorb US prestige, money, and lives, Americans began to question whether their adventure in Southeast Asia was worth the cost…
Part one of this series explores Diem’s rise to power and the origins of America’s involvement in Vietnam. Diem tries to chart a “third way” between the rocks of communism and empire; French, Japanese, and Americans vie for influence; and Vietnamese factions battle for the future of their country as a hapless emperor watches.
Inward Empire music by Stephen Spencer.
Christopher Goscha, Vietnam: A New History (New York: Basic Books, 2016)
Max Hastings, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy (New York: Harper, 2018)
George Herring, America’s Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 (New York: McGraw Hill, 2014)
Seth Jacobs, Cold War Mandarin: Ngo Dinh Diem and the Origins of America’s War in Vietnam, 1950-1963 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006)
Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History (New York: Viking Press, 1983)
Mark Lawrence, The Vietnam War: A Concise International History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008)
Edward Miller, Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam (Cambridge, MA: President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2013)
Edward Miller, “Vision, Power, and Agency: The Ascent of Ngo Dinh Diem, 1945-54,” in Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 35 (3), pp 433-458
Mark Moyar, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990 (New York: Harper Collins, 1991)