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The Road Not Taken

By: Max Boot

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, The New York Times Book Review

Superb biography.—Mark Bowden, New York Times

The Road Not Taken is an impressive work, an epic and elegant biography based on voluminous archival s

Product Details

  • Pages:768 pages
  • Publication Date:Wed Jan 10 2018
  • Publisher:Apollo
  • Language:English
  • Readers:50

Product Description

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, The New York Times Book Review

Superb biography.—Mark Bowden, New York Times

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, The Wall Street Journal

'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, The New Yorker

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, Forbes

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, Washington Times

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, Washington Post

Deeply researched and evenhanded, The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam is a superb scholarly achievement. . . . [Boot] comes at Lansdale having already written two major books on small wars and counterinsurgency, a solid foundation that he takes to a new level here with rigorous research and dogged investigation into little-known corners of Lansdale’s life. —Carter Malkasian, Foreign Policy

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, National Review

Comprehensively researched and insightfully written—Boot is, as always, an extremely talented writer.—Christian Science Monitor

An exceptionally well-written, captivating tale of one of the most distinctive characters in American Cold War history…. The Road Not Taken is highly recommended reading for historians of the Cold War and military leaders, Foreign Service officers, and intelligence personnel wrestling with America’s current challenges in the small wars of the 21st century, as well as general readers looking for an exhilarating story of a fascinating character in American history. —Peter Mansoor, Journal of American Greatness

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, Financial Times

A brilliant biography of the life—and a riveting description of the times—of Edward Lansdale, one of the most significant figures in post-WWII Philippines and then Vietnam. Just as David Halberstam did in The Best and the Brightest, Max Boot uses superb storytelling skills to cast new light on America's agonizing involvement in Vietnam. The Road Not Taken not only tells Edward Lansdale's story with novelistic verve but also situates it wonderfully in the context of his tumultuous experiences—and offers important lessons for the present day. —General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.)

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, Washington Monthly

Product Description

In this biography of Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), the man said to be the model for Greene's The Quiet American, Max Boot demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a 'hearts and minds' diplomacy, first in the Philippines, then in Vietnam. It was a visionary policy that, as Boot reveals, was ultimately crushed by America's giant military bureaucracy, steered by elitist generals who favoured napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people.

Through dozens of interviews and access to never-before-seen documents, Boot recasts this cautionary American story, tracing the bold rise and the crashing fall of Lansdale from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the humiliating American evaculation in 1975. Boot rescues Lansdale from historical ignominy and suggests that Vietnam could have been different had we only listened.

With reverberations that continue to resonate, this is a biography of profound historical consequence.