The American war in Vietnam was concluded in 1973 under the terms of a truce that were effectively identical to what was offered to the Nixon administration four years earlier. Those four years cost America billions of dollars and over 35,000 war deaths and casualties, and resulted in the deaths of over 300,000 Vietnamese. And those years were the direct result of the supposed master plan of the most important voice in the Nixon White House on American foreign policy: Henry Kissinger.
Using newly available archival material from the Nixon Presidential Library and Kissinger's personal papers, Robert K. Brigham shows how Kissinger's approach to Vietnam was driven by personal political rivalries and strategic confusion, while domestic politics played an outsized influence on Kissinger's so-called strategy. There was no great master plan or Bismarckian theory that supported how the US continued the war or conducted peace negotiations.
As a result, a distant tragedy was perpetuated, forever changing both countries. Now, perhaps for the first time, we can see the full scale of that tragedy and the machinations that fed it.
Robert. K. Brigham is the Shirley Ecker Boskey Professor of History and International Relations at Vassar College. He is a specialist on the history of U.S. foreign policy. His fellowships include the Rockefeller Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for Humanities. Brigham is author or co-author of nine books, among them Iraq, Vietnam, and the Limits of American Power (PublicAffairs, 2008) and Argument Without End (PublicAffairs, 1999).
"Brigham offers a persuasive argument that [Kissinger] lied, misled, and deceptively outmaneuvered other policy makers in setting Vietnam War policy from 1969 to 1975, with disastrous results.... This all-but-total condemnation...confirms what many Kissinger skeptics have believed for decades and may change the minds of some who have believe him to be a foreign policy guru."--Publishers Weekly "A welcome, much-needed reexamination of the secret negotiations that led to America's withdrawal from the Vietnam War. Using impressive new research, Robert K. Brigham skillfully analyzes the origins of the 1973 Paris Agreement and persuasively debunks the myth of Henry Kissinger as a diplomat of rare ability."--GEORGE C. HERRING, author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975 "One of the most compelling elements of the book is Brigham's portrayal of Kissinger's manipulation of an emotionally insecure Nixon. The president often responded by expressing doubts about Kissinger's methods, but he did Kissinger's bidding more often than not out of desperation to win over the American electorate during the 1972 election cycle."--Kirkus Reviews