In this biography of Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), the man said to be the model for Greene's The Quiet American, Max Boot demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a 'hearts and minds' 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 who favoured napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people.
Through dozens of interviews and access to never-before-seen documents, Boot recasts this cautionary American story, tracing the bold rise and the crashing fall of Lansdale from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the humiliating American evaculation in 1975. Boot rescues Lansdale from historical ignominy and suggests that Vietnam could have been different had we only listened.
With reverberations that continue to resonate, this is a biography of profound historical consequence.