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Before the Quagmire: American Intervention in Laos, 1954-1961 Hardcover – May 22, 2012
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"An exceptionally thorough, very deeply researched, and well-written account of American policy towards Laos during the Eisenhower presidency...In sum, this is an excellent and badly needed work. It should stand for many years as the definitive diplomatic history of American involvement in Laos in the 1950s." --Journal of American History--
"An especially welcome addition to the literature on American policy towards Southeast Asia during the Cold War... Rust's book is an incredibly valuable contribution to our understanding of American involvement in Southeast Asia." --Jessica M. Chapman, H-Diplo Roundtable, June 3, 2013--
"Rust's eye for human character--its frailties, limitations, and mysteries--adds depth and sophistication to this compelling study of the people who implement abstract geopolitical strategic policy on the ground." --Proceedings--
"Timely and instructive...Unearthing a treasure trove of government cables, communiqués, messages, and recorded conversations, Rust lends considerable space to the competing policy prescriptions of the State Department, Pentagon, and CIA during the final two years of the Eisenhower administration." --Vietnam magazine, October 2013--
"The large shadow of Vietnam has for too long obscured pivotal pieces of the Southeast Asian mosaic, and William Rust has provided a valuable service for both scholars and the public by producing this rigorous monograph on Laos during the Eisenhower years. Through painstaking research he shows Laos as both a precedent and catalyst for the Vietnam War. The story is a vitally important reminder of how even an extremely capable administration can make small mistakes that lead to tragic consequences."―Richard H. Immerman, Temple University
"Rust . . . makes a major contribution to the literature on America's Southeast Asian involvement with this comprehensively researched, well-written study of a usually overlooked aspect."―Publishers Weekly
"Missing too long from the ranks of Southeast Asia observers, William J. Rust shows in ample detail why his voice is needed. Rust has found a hole in our understanding of the evolution of the Vietnam War―the origins of the conflict in Laos―and ably filled it. Before the Quagmire provides a fascinating look, in intimate terms, at the path of U.S. policy in the 'Land of a Million Elephants.'"―John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975
"This well-written and well-researched book hones in on American policies toward Laos from the end of the First Indochina War in 1954 to the passing of the baton to JFK in 1961."―VVA Veteran
""Details the division between the Americans and the British and within the U.S. government itself, as the Americans tried to cope with a country whose politics they did not fully understand." ―Foreign Affairs"―
""An excellent account of the first major US involvement in Southeast Asia" The effort to prevent the Kingdom of Laos from falling prey to either neutralism or communism. . . . Highly recommended."―Choice"―
"Named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title"―
"Before the Quagmire is a well-documented read that we give three stars. ― Military Bookshelf"―Military Bookshelf
""Rust's contribution is an especially welcome addition to the literature on American policy towards Southeast Asia during the Cold War. Students of American foreign relations and especially the Vietnam War would be wise to consult this important, well-researched work on a woefully understated topic." ― H-Diplo"―
""This is the most detailed account of U.S. policy toward Laos to date, and should be included in any essential reading list on the Vietnam War." ― H-Diplo"―
""William J. Rust has written an exceptionally thorough, very deeply researched, and well-written account of Americna policy toward Laos during the Eisenhower presidency. This is an excellent and badly needed work. It should stand for many years as the definitive diplomatic history of American involvement in Laos in the 1950s." ― Journal of American History"―
""Rust's eye for human charcter - its frailties, limitations, and mysteries - adds depth and sophistication to this compelling study of the people who implement abstract geiopolitical strategic policy on the ground. His lucid, energetic, and fair-minded book is a useful contribution to our understnading of American efforts in Southeast Asia during this pivotal period." ― U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings"―
""Rust has been able to draw on a wealth of declassified information." ― Journal of Military History"―
"William J. Rust effectively argues that US handling of the situation in Laos was a key misstep in regional affairs and a precursor to the Vietnam War. But the book is actually a diplomatic process tutorial that explains what happens when government officials and interested parties seek to manipulate circumstances to their own ends....Rust's excellent account of US-Laotian conundrums fills a historiographical gap and will assuredly be the standard work. It is an essential reference for those interested in the pre-Vietnam War era and America's general involvement in Southeast Asian Cold War Affairs."―The Historian
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Top Customer Reviews
"The perception of communism as a worldwide conspiracy micromanaged from Moscow was a point of view that required little knowledge of the history, people and politics of the area and great faith in the "falling domino principle" which Eisenhower had first mentioned at an April 1954 press conference in response to a question about the strategic importance of Indochina." from Before the Quagmire pgs 160-1
In 1963 when I enlisted in the Air Force I would of had great difficulty finding Laos on the map. It turned out to be a sleepy backwater of a place, hot, tropical and inhabited by mostly subsistence farmers that were happy to continue in their ancient traditions. Unfortunately Laos is cursed by geography. Boarded by North and South Vietnam, China, Burma, Thailand and Cambodia; poor Laos, it's maps tacked up, marked up, pondered over and lusted upon by most every military, political and espionage organization in the free and communist world.
In those post WW-2 years after Korea and the calamity of "who lost China" being on the wrong side of the "flow of history" was tantamount to committing the unpardonable sin. After all the line had been drawn in the sand. To state it in it's most simplified form it was Democracy vs. the World Communist conspiracy. For the simple, honest peoples of Laos and, of course, Viet-Nam being a pawn on that chessboard was an unmitigated disaster no matter how you rationalize and justify the expendure of manpower, equipment and the outcome.
For individuals was a burning curiosity to know how the officials in the embassy, CIA, State Department and the JCS plotted and maneuvered in Laos during Eisenhower's watch this book is essential reading.Read more ›