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

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$35.00  $32.55
Liveright Publishing Corporation
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6.4 X 9.4 X 1.9 inches | 2.7 pounds
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About the Author
Max Boot, historian and foreign-policy analyst, is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a columnist for the Washington Post. His New York Times bestseller The Road Not Taken was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.
I couldn't stop reading this engrossing biography of Edward Lansdale, a man who loved his country's ideals and who secretly fought for them in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Washington, DC. Lansdale's story is relevant today, because he was a key figure in the debate over how and how not to use military force to achieve American foreign policy aims. Through Lansdale's efforts we got it right in the Philippines, but no one listened to him in Vietnam. He was forgotten by the time we moved into Afghanistan and Iraq. I fervently hope our policy makers read this book.--Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
As one of the last few links to Lansdale, who was also one of his closest on-the-ground collaborators, I can attest that this biography of him is the best, most accurate, revealing and complete portrait yet produced. Even with all I knew, I learned a great deal more that was new which broadened my understanding of this extraordinary man. The very human way he helped the Filipino and Vietnamese people defend their inalienable rights is a shining model to be followed by current and future generations of Americans assigned abroad to assist fragile nations.--Rufus Phillips, author of Why Vietnam Matters
A remarkable piece of work, superbly researched and documented. In an ideal world, it would be required reading for all senior American diplomats being posted to underdeveloped nations. Having worked with Lansdale during an important period in his career, I particularly noted how Max Boot skillfully dissected his modus operandi.--Lieutenant General Samuel V. Wilson (U.S. Army, Ret.)
Boot outshines everything ever written about the legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale (1908-1987) in this exhaustive, fact-filled, and analytical biography.
Judicious and absorbing...Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, brings solid credentials to this enterprise...Here he draws on a range of material, official and personal...What emerges is a picture of a man who from an early point possessed an unusual ability to relate to other people, a stereotypically American can-do optimism, an impatience with bureaucracy and a fascination with psychological warfare.--Fredrik Logevall
In this fine portrait of Edward Lansdale, Max Boot adds to his well-deserved reputation as being among the most insightful and productive of contemporary historians. This is a superb book. Diligently researched and gracefully written, it builds on a comprehensive analysis of Lansdale's triumphs in the post-World War II Philippines to provide much new material, and expose old myths, about one of the most fascinating, and in many ways ultimately saddest, members of the supporting cast in the later war in Vietnam.--Lewis Sorley
Boot marshals sharp, devastating anecdotes to show how Lansdale's ideas were dismissed or misunderstood by his contemporaries. . . . The stories this volume tells about voluntary isolation and lack of knowledge, vision, or respect for anything outside U.S. security culture, in all its violent, self-reinforcing whiteness and maleness, have a terrible timelessness to them . . . . We are in his debt for writing a book about another time that challenges us to raise those questions in ours.--Heather Hurlburt
Edward Lansdale is probably the greatest cold warrior that most Americans have never heard of. Max Boot has written a fascinating account of how this California college humorist, frat boy and advertising executive evolved into a counterinsurgency expert before the term was even coined.... Max Boot has become one of the master chroniclers of American counterinsurgency efforts, and his biography of Mr. Lansdale is a tribute to a guy who recognized the threat of insurgency in a post-World War II environment where most American leaders saw only brute force as a solution to any political-military problem.... This book should be read in Baghdad and Kabul, not only by Americans, but by local leaders.--Gary Anderson
Max Boot capably and readably tracks the fascinating but ultimately depressing trajectory of this shadowy figure, who, as a murky undercover operative and a literary and cinematic avatar, looms over or lurks behind some of the crucial moments in U.S. foreign policy in the decades following World War II, culminating in its greatest disaster.--James G. Hershberg
'The Road Not Taken'... is expansive and detailed, it is well written, and it sheds light on a good deal about U.S. covert activities in postwar Southeast Asia..... [Boot] believes that Lansdale's approach was the wiser one, but he is cautious in his analysis of what went wrong... A lot of his book is committed to restoring a sense of proportion to his subject's image as a political Svengali, or "Lawrence of Asia."--Louis Menand
A brilliant, extremely well-written book about a forgotten figure who was one of the most extraordinary and utterly unorthodox espionage agents in history.--Steve Forbes
Comprehensively researched and insightfully written--Boot is, as always, an extremely talented writer.
A capacious biography.... The book is chock-full of operational information on Lansdale's deeds, both quiet and ugly.... This book might work as a star vehicle for Tom Hanks or Matt Damon.... A useful addition to the literature on US foreign policy during the half century bracketed by the US occupation of the Philippines and the disastrous 2003 intervention in Iraq.--John Reed
Superb biography.--Mark Bowden
The Road Not Taken is an impressive work, an epic and elegant biography based on voluminous archival sources. It belongs to a genre of books that takes a seemingly obscure hero and uses his story as a vehicle to capture a whole era.... Mr. Boot's full-bodied biography does not ignore Lansdale's failures and shortcomings--not least his difficult relations with his family--but it properly concentrates on his ideas and his attempts to apply them in Southeast Asia. ... The Road Not Taken gives a vivid portrait of a remarkable man and intelligently challenges the lazy assumption that failed wars are destined to fail or that failure, if it comes, cannot be saved from the worst possible outcome.--Robert D. Kaplan