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Publisher's Summary

In chronicling the adventurous life of legendary CIA operative Edward Lansdale, The Road Not Taken definitively reframes our understanding of the Vietnam War. In this epic biography of Edward Lansdale (1908-1987), the man said to be the fictional model for Graham Greene's The Quiet American, best-selling historian Max Boot demonstrates how Lansdale pioneered a "hearts and mind" 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 and blueblood diplomats who favored troop build-ups and napalm bombs over winning the trust of the people.

Through dozens of interviews and access to never before-seen documents - including long-hidden love letters - Boot recasts this cautionary American story, tracing the bold rise and the crashing fall of the roguish "T. E. Lawrence of Asia" from the battle of Dien Bien Phu to the humiliating American evacuation in 1975.

Bringing a tragic complexity to this so-called "ugly American", this "engrossing biography" (Karl Marlantes) rescues Lansdale from historical ignominy and suggests that Vietnam could have been different had we only listened. With reverberations that continue to play out in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Road Not Taken is a biography of profound historical consequence.

©2018 Max Boot (P)2018 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An honest look at Vietnam Nam and USA

Well researched and presented without a political agenda. Boot has given the reader/listener a ringside view of US decision making in the post WWII era through the end of the century. As a young observer in Saigon 1965-67, this demonstrates the highest degree of veracity I have found.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • texan
  • Austin, TX United States
  • 03-05-18

Wayyy too long.

I can’t believe I finished this book. I almost “returned” it a dozen times.
A good editor for this story of a very interesting time and individual desperately needed. The author went off on a number of unneeded tangents ( LBJ, Humbert Humphrey , etc). The narrator was excellent, but the story may put you to sleep.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, awesome author, terrible pronunciation

What made the experience of listening to The Road Not Taken the most enjoyable?

The story is very interesting and really holds your attention.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Road Not Taken?

The eye-opening facts

What didn’t you like about Henry Strozier’s performance?

Wow - talk about bad pronunciations just terrible

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

all of it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Slow start. The rest is an amazing tale.

First 5 chapters read like a geneology or actuary table, but once under way in earnest, we begin to get a sympathetic portrayal of an amazing man who is still teaching us today and who we are still ignoring. He was not a perfect man but his sincerity is undeniable and his goodness skewed and magnified by the -now- obvious rightness of his ideas.

What I really enjoyed was that at least 6 hours of the book surprisingly dealt with the Philippines and not only Vietnam and I was very interested in learning the history I thought I knew from letting it pass through the story of this one man and along the way, picking up mini biographies on countless names, known and lesser known, who have created the world we live in.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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piecing it together<br />

Narrator is superb. I was looking for the complete story of why we sacrificed so many lives in a lost cause. this explains it clearly.
Lansdale is now my forgotten hero.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • robert
  • heber, UT, United States
  • 05-07-18

Landsdale an interesting guy

The problem with this book is the cover, which should have a picture of Edwards Landsdale. This book is a biography. The first half doesn't even mention Vietnam, the second half is heavily focused on events leading up to the war, the war, and post Vietnam war era. It has a what if feel to it in some parts. In my opinion the author is objective. Edward Landsdale was a contrarian, genius, patriot etc... he was able to distinguish between American exceptionalism and American hubris. A man not influenced by money or power , but what he deemed the right thing to do. The opposite of the clowns with the Harvard MBA's that "managed" the war. He was able to get into the mind of a culture and use friendship and diplomacy instead of "a big stick".. I guess he used that a little also.. I enjoyed the story. It filled in a blank space leading up to the Vietnam war era. I'd highly recommend this book. I'd also recommend the Audible book on John Boyd. He was the exact same type of character. Boyd probably Exceeded Landsdale in nearly every eccentricity and accomplishment.... except diplomacy. The book on Boyd is also a little bit better.. this book is a 4star

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Wordy But Compelling.

Edward Lansdale was not a paragon of virtue. but he was a skilled operator in Asia. Boot is a bit wordy.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating subject

Great work on a fascinating Cold Warrior. Title a little misleading, as the Vietnam aspects of the book lack depth in the complexity in the approach of the war. But the insight into Landsdale’s life and his influence is quite good.

Highly recommended for historians and practitioners in the intel, diplomacy, and military agencies.

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An important story

First of all, the reader was the best I’ve ever heard. I thought I was listening to Walter Cronkite. After growing up during the Vietnam war era I was so full of questions. This exhaustive tale is a real heartbreaker as well as an inspiration. I now have a much better idea of what was going on during that tumultuous period.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

So very boring

I was interested in the book in response to comments made by the host of The President’s Inbox podcast. The book’s first several hours(!) seems a minute-by-minute accounting of Ed Landsdale’s daily life, moving across the country as a child and elements of his father’s life in a hotel. None of which contribute to understanding why this person, ignored by military leaders, should hold elegance in history. I want the hours I’ve spent on this book back! I cannot begin to justify listening to the remaining 21 hours. Readers finding this book interesting may want to read about me, too.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful