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Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (v. 1) Hardcover – August 28, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A full-blooded member of what he calls the "revisionist school" of Vietnam War historians, Moyar firmly believes that America's longest and most controversial overseas war was "a worthy but improperly executed enterprise." His fiercely argued book, which covers the early years of American involvement in the war, is an unabated salvo against what he calls the "orthodox school" that sees American involvement in the war as "wrongheaded and unjust." The main villains are former Vietnam War correspondents David Halberstam and Neil Sheehan; former U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge; and just about anyone else who had bad things to say about South Vietnamese premier Ngo Dinh Diem and good things to say about Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. Though Moyar marshals many primary sources to buttress his political point of view, he undermines his argument by disparaging those he disagrees with (calling Sheehan and Halberstam, for example, "indignant," "vengeful," and "self-righteous"). He also showers praise on those who backed Diem, the autocratic leader who stifled the press and his political opponents. Revisionists will embrace the book; the orthodox will see it as more evidence of a vast, right-wing conspiracy. (Oct. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This thoroughly researched and richly informative history of the Vietnam War examines first the war's central characters and countries in the years leading up to 1954. Moyar contends that South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, who has been incessantly depicted as an obtuse, tyrannical reactionary by some historians, was in reality a very wise and effective leader. Moyar states that supporting the November 1963 coup was the worst American mistake of the war, that President Kennedy had no plans to abandon his South Vietnamese allies after the 1964 election, and that President Johnson's lack of forcefulness in Vietnam in late 1964 and early 1965 squandered America's deterrent power and led to a decision in Hanoi to invade South Vietnam with large North Vietnamese army units. Moyar notes that historians have argued that an American ground-troop presence in Laos would not have stopped most of the infiltration, but much new evidence contradicts this contention. Where the U.S. committed major errors, he writes, was in formulating strategies for defending South Vietnam. A valuable appraisal. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (August 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521869110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521869119
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read Mark Moyar's Triumph Forsaken with full admiration. As an avid

reader of Vietnam war history --in both in Vietnamese and in English --it's delightful to see Mr. Moyar comes up with a fresh look at, among

others, what we Sough Vietnamese consider the most turbulent times of the

Republic of Vietnam . Aside from the book's main theme which advances

the premise that triumphs achieved by South Vietnam's first republic

were forsaken and the removal of President Ngo Dinh Diem was a mortal

mistake, Triumph Forsaken also provides a detailed picture of a rather

complex and chaotic times in South Vietnam .

The immediate four years after the coup d'R(tm)etat that brought down Ngo Dinh Diem's regime in 1963 were tumultuous ones. The situation during

the period of 1964-1967 in Saigon had been discussed and written in many

books before, but none provided as much details as Mr. Moyar's. What

makes Mr. Moyar'book different from other books is that the author

abundantly supplies readers with references from books published in

Vietnamese from both sides of the war (North and South Vietnam ). This reader must admid that many times during reading Mr. Moyar'R(tm)s book, he has gone to his bookshelves to checked out those Vietnamese sources cited by the author. And on every instance the references are relevant and concise; translations from the Vietnamese sources are splendid as they were rendered into English.

Two chapters stands out from Triumph Forsaken: Chapter 16 (The Prize for

Victory: January-May 1965), and Chapter 17 (Decision: June-July 1965).
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Format: Hardcover
Triumph Forsaken is the finest account published to date on the Vietnam War. The early histories of the War were produced by the journalists who covered the War. Their accounts reflect negative reporting, as well as the search for "Dirt" as Neil Sheehan called it. Thereafter followed histories of the War based on the negative journalism that characterized media coverage from the War Zone.

In the years that followed primary sources have been produced that include biographical accounts -- first person accounts of the diplomats, intelligence operatives, and soldiers who experienced the War first hand. Particularly useful have been the official military histories produces long after the guns were silent that record the message traffic, major speeches of key leaders, and intelligence summaries of the campaigns waged by both Hanoi and America. Finally there are the biographical accounts of the North Vietnamese Generals, who directed the War from Hanoi and fought the War in South Vietnam. Their accounts add much to our understanding of the War and in many respects show a remarkable similarity to the accounts of Senior American Diplomats and General Officers of the battles they waged from opposite sides of the skirmish lines.

It is these primary sources that Mark Moyar has used to write his fresh and very readable History of the Vietnam War. Such a work could not have been written twenty years ago, because the primary sources were still in production. Now that these sources have been published, it is possible for the first time to see the War as senior leaders on both sides saw the Conflict. Moyar's account is fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
Of all the books I've read this past year, Mark Moyar's book Triumph Forsaken has to be the most intriguing. His insistence on a major reassessment of the Vietnam War is compelling enough that it motivates you to collect all those assumptions you may have had about the war and reconsider them, one by one. The reverse spin Moyar puts on the received wisdom about the war, especially that which has been disseminated by a few prominent American journalists over the last 40 years, is formidable to say the least. From a pure foreign policy and military strategy perspective, the book is a valuable contribution to the field of Vietnam War research.

In the book's preface, Moyar sets out the main argument that Ngo Dinh Diem and his administration were unreservedly the correct fit for the fledgling Republic of Vietnam that had arisen from the 1954 Geneva Accords. He contends that no one else in South Vietnamese politics demanded the same respect and possessed the innate leadership qualities as Diem. Moyar attempts to demonstrate that three main forces colluded to have Diem deposed, which ended up with his assassination in November 1963: militant Buddhists, liberal-leaning American news media and then US Ambassador to Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge.

According to Moyar's historical accounts based on select source documents, a strong militant Buddhist contingent, led by Tri Quang, effectively manipulated American public opinion against Diem and his government through the use of particularly opinionated American journalists living in Saigon. The book insinuates that either communist agents were infiltrating and manipulating the outspoken Buddhist movement or both groups colluded with each other in order to bring down Diem.
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