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No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam Hardcover – July 31, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Henry Kissinger shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho for brokering the peace treaty that ended American participation in the Vietnam War in January of that year. Le Duc Tho declined the prize. Berman's eye-opening book makes a strong case although he does not say so that Kissinger should have turned down the prize as well. Making perceptive use of a large cache of recently declassified American and Vietnamese documents, Berman (of the University of California's Washington, D.C., Center) paints a decidedly negative picture of Kissinger's motives and machinations during the four years he negotiated with the North Vietnamese. Kissinger, Berman writes, "was willing to tell one side one thing and the other the opposite, leaving them to sort things out later." Berman's pioneering research indicates also that President Richard Nixon claimed he achieved "peace with honor" while knowing full well that the terms he agreed to would lead eventually to a North Vietnamese military victory following America's withdrawal. Berman also shows that the North Vietnamese were far from blameless during the negotiating. Their leaders regularly deceived the American negotiators and never planned to live up to the peace terms they signed. Surprisingly, the one group of leaders that comes out relatively unscathed is the notoriously corrupt South Vietnamese regime headed by Nguyen Van Thieu, which wound up agreeing to peace terms dictated by North Vietnam and the United States terms that all but ordained South Vietnam's eventual fall to the Communists in April 1975. (Aug.)Forecast: With Christopher Hitchens's The Trial of Henry Kissinger and other books critical of the former secretary of state beginning to crowd the shelves, look for pundits to brandish this carefully argued monograph.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, who participated in the negotiations to end the Vietnam War, observed, "There are at least two words no one can use to characterize the outcome of that two-faced policy. One is 'peace.' The other is 'honor.' " Berman (Lyndon Johnson's War and Planning a Tragedy) confirms Zumwalt and two notable 1998 investigations of the Richard Nixon-Henry Kissinger Vietnam diplomacy: Jeffrey Kimball's Nixon's Vietnam War (LJ 11/1/98) and William Bundy's A Tangled Web (LJ 3/15/98). Berman skillfully navigates recently declassified records to show that Nixon never sought a peaceful solution to the war. Instead, the Paris Peace Treaty, which ended U.S. involvement in 1973 after five years of tortured negotiations between Kissinger and his North Vietnam counterpart Le Duc Tho, was so deliberately ambiguous that Nixon believed he would be able to return with U.S. air power to avoid being blamed for the loss of the war. South Vietnam's President Thieu is portrayed sympathetically as a dupe of Nixon who was forced to sign this "Jabberwocky Agreement," which ensured the downfall of South Vietnam in 1975 as certainly as Watergate destroyed Nixon's scheme to bomb his way to respectability. A worthy choice for academic and most public libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (July 31, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684849682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684849683
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Few readers will fail to be moved by this book, in most cases seeing it as a vindication of their position about the Vietnam War. For hawks, the book makes a case for greater bombing by B-52s and being a stouter ally for South Vietnam. For doves, the book makes a case for lots of loss for little gain during the Johnson and Nixon years. For those who think the diplomacy was cynical, Dr. Kissinger looks quite slippery. For those who think we took the principled route, there was an opportunity to enforce the peace accords with massive bombing that Watergate eliminated.
The book's key strength is that it includes lots of previously classified notes of private meetings made by both the North Vietnamese and the American negotiators. Assembled into a chronological story of how the peace accords were reached, you see a reasonably coherent picture of what was going on in public and behind the scenes at the same time.
Anyone who cares to better understand the U.S. experience in Vietnam will find this book to add valuable understanding. The spin is separated from the reality. I think most people will be more than a little shocked to realize how wide the cynicism was that led people to work on public relations and politics at the expense of solving the problem, however you define it. Foreign governments were trying to influence American election results. The U.S. was trying to influence election results in South Vietnam. "Peace with honor" was proclaimed by President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger at a time when they did not expect peace, and felt that the honor still had to be earned by massive future bombing.
For the North Vietnamese, negotiations and politics were simply tools to help achieve the military victory.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By johne on August 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1973, soon after the Nobel Prize Committee announced that Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho had won the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in bringing about the treaty that ended United States military involvement in Vietnam, former US Ambassador to Japan and Harvard history professor Edwin Reischauer said that the Nobel Committee had apparently changed the award to the "Nobel War Prize." Among other things, Professor Berman's latest book certainly demonstrates that no one deserved a peace prize for the Viet Nam War (what the Vietnamese call "the American War"). That Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon constantly engaged in duplicity with the South Vietnamese government and with the American people is not exactly news today. However, Berman's prodigious research demonstrates beyond all doubt that Kissinger and Nixon knew very well that whatever peace agreement they reached with the North Vietnamese government would be at best temporary, and would result in the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. Furthermore, Berman demonstrates that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were only interested in getting the US out of Viet Nam,and were not at all concerned with what would happen to the South Vietnamese people afterwards. "No Peace, No Honor" is an important and readable book on the last years of US involvement in the Viet Nam War, especially the behind-the-scenes negotiations that resulted in America's less than honorable exit from Viet Nam.
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41 of 57 people found the following review helpful By on August 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The story that Larry Berman tells of Nixon-Kissinger diplomacy is a familiar and unpleasant one. Just before the 1968 election the Nixon campaign contacted President General Thieu of South Vietnam. In returning for Thieu opposing peace talks that had just started, and subsequently ruining Hubert Humphrey's election chances, Nixon and Kissinger promised him a better deal. Four years later Kissinger, while keeping Thieu largely in the dark, finally came up with an agreement in October 1972. The Americans would withdraw, American prisoners of war would be returned, the North Vietnamese army would allow to keep troops in the south, and instead of being the sole government of South Vietnam, Thieu would now have to share this with the National Liberation Front (NLF). Thieu was extremely upset about this and in order to appease his feelings the United States claimed, falsely, that the North was trying to seek major changes in the agreement. They bombed the North (the infamous "Christmas Bombings"), returned to the negotiating table, made token changes to the agreement, and falsely proclaimed "peace with honor" in January 1973.
Much of this has already been well known, and has been detailed by such writers as Gareth Porter, Seymour Hersh and most recently Jeffrey Kimball in Nixon's Vietnam War. Berman argues something new however. Nixon and Kissinger claimed that they had won a viable agreement which was undermined by Watergate. The collapse of presidential authority let a cowardly Congress ruin their farsighted policy and allow the North to win. By contrast, their many critics claim that Nixon and Kissinger had obtained nothing but a "decent interval," allowing them to extricate themselves knowing that the North would conquer them in a few years.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Merle L. Pribbenow on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book, whose publication I had awaited with great anticipation, was a great disappointment. While the book is the product of prodigious research and is valuable for the new information and documents it contains, in spite of its veneer of objectivity in the end it is just another in a long line of political attacks clearly designed more to denounce Nixon and Kissinger for "crimes" and "atrocities" than to provide an objective historical record. I am no fan of Kissinger's, but this book forsakes logic in its accusations against him. The book is built around two fundamentally contradictory criticisms of Kissinger and Nixon: 1) that they betrayed South Vietnam and its President, Nguyen Van Thieu. 2) that Nixon and Kissinger viewed the peace agreement simply as a device to maintain support for Thieu, resume bombing after the treaty was signed, and continue the war indefinitely. It makes no sense to blast Nixon and Kissinger for conniving to keep Thieu in power AND for betraying him, for abandoning South Vietnam AND for planning to prolong the war indefinitely. Berman's attempt to argue both points simultaneously is confusing and schizophrenic, although that may be the reason his arguments make such eminent good sense to such illustrious minds as Daniel Ellsberg and Seymour Hersch, both of whom wrote laudatory blurbs on the book's back jacket. As for the publisher's claim that Berman had uncovered "..a serio-comic plan by the CIA to overthrow South Vietnam's President Thieu even as late as 1975," Berman provides only rumor, and even that is contradictory. Significantly, the endnotes for this section provide absolutely no supporting documentation for Berman's claims. The charge is simply untrue.Read more ›
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