Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965
by Mark Moyar
List Price: $32.00
Hardcover: 542 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: August 28, 2006
New in Print
Drawing on a wealth of new evidence from all sides, Triumph Forsaken overturns
most of the historical orthodoxy on the Vietnam War. Through the analysis of
international perceptions and power, it shows that South Vietnam was a vital
interest of the United States. The book provides many new insights into the
overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963 and demonstrates that the coup negated the
South Vietnamese government's tremendous, and hitherto unappreciated, military
and political gains between 1954 and 1963. After Diem's assassination,
President Lyndon Johnson had at his disposal several aggressive policy options
that could have enabled South Vietnam to continue the war without a massive US
troop infusion, but he ruled out these options because of faulty assumptions
and inadequate intelligence, making such an infusion the only means of saving
"Thoroughly researched and richly informative....A valuable appraisal."
"A radically revisionist account of America's policy in Vietnam during the years
before combat troops were introduced. Based largely on archival sources and
Communist histories of the war, this highly provocative work attacks virtually
every aspect of what Moyar calls the 'orthodox' historical interpretations of
"Mark Moyar tells how and why the United States did not win its first war in
Vietnam, 1954–1965. Triumph Forsaken replaces its predecessors because
it shows how the counterinsurgency campaign might have been won at acceptable
cost, thus avoiding ‘the big war’ that followed."
Allan R. Millett, Director, Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University
of New Orleans
"I know of no scholar more dedicated to bringing a thorough and accurate
portrayal of America's involvement in Vietnam than Mark Moyar. Everyone who is
interested in a full picture of that oftmisunderstood war should be grateful
for his effort."
James Webb, Marine combat veteran, author of Fields of Fire and Born Fighting
"Numerous bits of conventional wisdom have accreted around the Vietnam War. It
is commonly held that Ho Chi Minh was a Vietnamese nationalist above all, not a
true communist, and that his victory was inevitable. That Ngo Dinh Diem was an
unpopular and repressive reactionary. That the United States had no vital
strategic interest in defending South Vietnam. That the ‘domino theory’ was a
myth. That the U.S. was right not to invade North Vietnam or Laos for fear of
triggering Chinese intervention. Mark Moyar, a young, bold, and iconoclastic
historian, takes a sledge hammer to these hoary beliefs. It is ‘revisionist’ in
the best sense of the word."
Max Boot, author of The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of
American Power and War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of
History, 1500 to Today.
"Triumph Forsaken is a remarkable book. Moyar’s work is the most powerful
challenge to the orthodox interpretation of the origins of America’s war in
Vietnam. In taking a fresh look at the primary sources, as well as exploiting
new materials from the American and communist archives, Moyar has constructed
an alternative explanation for the roots of the American commitment. Moyar’s
book compels historians to reopen the debate about the meaning of the Vietnam
Thomas Alan Schwartz, Professor of History, Vanderbilt University
"Mark Moyar has produced the best 'revisionist' study to date of the
U.S.intervention in Vietnam. Engagingly written and broadly researched, this
book establishes Moyar as the leading voice of a new generation of historians
intent on challenging conventional wisdom."
William Stueck, author of Rethinking the Korean War
"A revisionist history that challenges the notion that U.S. involvement in
Vietnam was misguided; defends the validity of the domino theory and disputes
the notion that Ho Chi Minh was, at heart, a nationalist who would eventually
turn against his Communist Chinese allies."
Chronicle of Higher Education
"...this is an important book, a history that serves as a mirror on the
Wall Street Journal
"The book is meticulously documented; it draws on the substantial U.S.
documentary record of the war, bringing fresh perspectives to familiar
evidence. Moyar augments and supports his analysis with extensive use of North
Vietnamese archival material, most of which was unavailable to the orthodox
historians of the 1970s and ’80s. In sum, Triumph Forsaken is an important
"...impressive and scrupulously researched revisionist history....Moyar’s
controversial investigation will be challenged by many of the well-respected
scholars he confronts in his authoritative account, which elevates the
arguments of Vietnam War revisionists to a higher, more respected, level."
"...[Moyar] has done extensive and careful research in newly available primary
sources such as North Vietnamese histories of the conflict. The result is a
valuable revisionist study that rejects much of the conventional wisdom about
our early involvement in the conflict."
New York Sun, Guenter Lewy
"[Moyar's] is a complex and well-written account that set the bar high for
scholarship. It is essential reading for anyone wanting a fresh understanding
of one of America's longest and misunderstood conflicts."
Marine Corp Gazette
About the Author
Mark Moyar holds a B.A. summa cum laude in history from Harvard and a PhD in
history from Cambridge. He is the author of Phoenix and the Birds of Prey: The
CIA's Secret Campaign to Destroy the Viet Cong. Dr. Moyar has taught at
Cambridge, Ohio State University, and Texas A&M University, and at present
he is an Associate Professor and Course Director at the U.S. Marine Corps
University in Quantico, Virginia.
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