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Marigold presents the first rigorously documented, in-depth story of one of the Vietnam War's last great mysteries: the secret peace initiative, codenamed "Marigold," that sought to end the war in 1966. The initiative failed, the war dragged on for another seven years, and this episode sank into history as an unresolved controversy. Antiwar critics claimed President Johnson had bungled (or, worse, deliberately sabotaged) a breakthrough by bombing Hanoi on the eve of a planned secret U.S.-North Vietnamese encounter in Poland. Yet, LBJ and top aides angrily insisted that Poland never had authority to arrange direct talks and Hanoi was not ready to negotiate.
This book uses new evidence from long hidden communist sources to show that, in fact, Poland was authorized by Hanoi to open direct contacts and that Hanoi had committed to entering talks with Washington. It reveals LBJ's personal role in bombing Hanoi as he utterly disregarded the pleas of both the Polish and his own senior advisors. The historical implications of missing this opportunity are immense: Marigold might have ended the war years earlier, saving thousands of lives, and dramatically changed U.S. political history.
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James Hershberg is Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University. He was the founding director of the Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project and author of James B. Conant: Harvard to Hiroshima and the Making of the Nuclear Age (Stanford University Press, 1995).Review:
"An extraordinarily well documented account of battling leaks appears in Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam, a new book by George Washington University history professor James G. Hershberg. Professor Hershberg's exhaustive book . . . draws on declassified diplomatic cables, foreign archives, countless interviews, and reporters' private notes to recount the breakdown of secret Polish-Italian efforts in 1966―code-named 'Marigold'―that hoped to coax the United States and North Vietnam into direct peace negotiations." (Jack Shafer Reuters)
"The product of Hershberg's inquiry is Marigold, a staggering exercise in historical scholarship leveraging both established sources and a huge array of newly surfaced documentary materials and research drawn from 15 countries around the world . . . Hershberg has achieved his presumptive goal of a hidden history that had been the subject of intense speculation over the years but never comprehensively told." (Gordon M. Goldstein Washington Post)
"The book will be, I believe, a blockbuster addition to the scholarship of the Vietnam War and, more generally, to Cold War history. Hershberg has produced a remarkably engaging study, a novelesque work of non-fiction that succeeds brilliantly in evoking the feel of 1966 Saigon, Hanoi, Warsaw, Austin, and Washington, It will rank among the finest and most ambitious examples of the 'new Cold War history' and be nothing less than a model for historians and graduate students of how to conduct research in international history and how to weave research drawn from multiple nations into a compelling narrative." (Mark Atwood Lawrence University of Texas at Austin, author of The Vietnam War: A Concise International History and Assuming the Burden: Europe and the American Commitment to War in Vietnam)
"Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam delves deep into the diplomatic maneuvering that transpired in the shadows of the American war in Vietnam. James G. Hershberg offers a book that strikes near perfect balance between macro and micro history . . . Marigold is a detailed account of the diplomatic wrangling during the apogee of the Vietnam War. With a trove of primary sources from all parties, including diplomatic exchanges, interviews, and diaries, Hershberg weaves a masterful analysis of the clandestine world of Cold War-era diplomacy . . . [T]he book offers one of the most detailed retellings of a particular facet of the Vietnam War . . . [O]ne will enjoy Hershberg's detailed packed study. All students and scholars of both the Vietnam War and Cold War will want to own a copy of Marigold." (Robert Thompson H-Net)
"This is a well-written, in-depth look at the facts of a controversial and convoluted peace effort that could have significantly altered the course of the Vietnam War." (Publisher's Weekly)
"[Marigold] is, in short, the very best kind of scholarship in international history . . . Historians of the Vietnam War, and the Cold War more broadly, will learn much from this remarkably fresh and revealing historical account." (Andrew Preston International Affairs)
"A thoughtful and well-reasoned study, Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam is highly recommended especially for American military history shelves." (Midwest Book Review)
"Hershberg superbly details a singular event of a highly controversial era―the Vietnam conflict . . . Highly recommended." (Choice)
"James G. Hershberg's book is a valuable addition to the discourse that the Vietnam conflict was far more complicated than originally assumed. . . Hershberg traces Marigold from its inception to the end in minute detail, using archival evidence from numerous countries and interviews of key individuals. His research is not only revealing on marigold but sheds further light on the international dimensions of the Vietnam War." (Eugenie M. Blang American Historical Review)
"James Hershberg has produced a truly admirable work of diplomatic history that will undoubtedly stand as the definitive account of the courageous but unsuccessful joint Polish-Italian effort to bring Hanoi and Washington to the negotiating table in 1966 and bring the Vietnam War to an early end. It is a major feat that the author was able to discover such a substantive, original subject matter in the crowded field of Vietnam War scholarship, and the favourable attention this work has drawn is well-deserved . . . Marigold is essential reading for advanced students and professors of the Vietnam War, the Cold War in Asia, and peace history/conflict resolution studies." (Sean J. McLaughlin Canadian Journal of History)
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