Pay Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam

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9781566630870: Pay Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam
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A masterful account of Lyndon Johnson and America's fall into Vietnam by one of our finest historians, filled with fresh interpretations, deft portraits, and new perspectives. Absolutely terrific...simply the best book on the period. ―Marilyn B. Young

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Lloyd C. Gardner traces the trajectory of the Vietnam War from police action to international conflict, showing how its conduct coincided with Lyndon Johnson's attachment to social programs meant to improve the lives of the world's poor. By introducing such tangled political elements into a military problem, Gardner argues, Johnson cast a certain unreality on the whole affair. "If one could go to the moon," Gardner imagines a loyalist reasoning, "and if one could help grandma with new medical miracles, surely it would be possible to convince Ho Chi Minh to accept a dam on the Mekong River instead of a residence in Saigon." Manipulated by Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, Johnson believed that his schemes of regional economic development would bear him out as a savior of the world's oppressed---whether the oppressed asked for his help or not. Gardner's suggestion that Vietnam can be seen as a moral drama played out in the dark recesses of LBJ's conscience is intriguing, and he backs it up with careful scholarship.

From the Back Cover:

Lyndon Johnson brought to the presidency a political outlook nurtured by New Deal liberalism and the idea of government intervention for the public good. In his desire to make that idea work at home and abroad, he contributed to one of the most tragic turning points in American history. As LBJ sought to fulfill John Kennedy's pledge in Southeast Asia, he constructed a fatal coupling of the Great Society and the anti-Communist imperative that had long governed American foreign policy. Pay Any Price is Lloyd Gardner's riveting account of Lyndon Johnson and America's fall into Vietnam; of behind-the-scenes decision-making at the highest levels of government; of miscalculation, blinkered optimism, and moral obtuseness. In a brilliant blending of political biography and diplomatic history, Mr. Gardner has written the first book on American involvement in the Vietnam War to use the full resources and newly declassified documents of the Johnson Library, as well as a wealth of other sources, and to tell the whole story of Johnson and Vietnam.

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