Almost half a century ago, a young reporter from Germany arrived in still-glamorous Saigon to cover the Vietnam War over a period of five years. In this memoir, he tells the story of how he fell in love with the Vietnamese people. He praises the beauty, elegance, and feistiness of their women. He describes blood-curdling Communist atrocities and fierce combat scenes he witnessed. He introduces a striking array of characters: heroes, villains, statesmen and spooks, hilarious eccentrics, street urchins, and orphans herding water buffalos.
He shows how professional malpractice by US media stars, such as Walter Cronkite, turned the military victory of American and South Vietnamese forces during the 1968 Tet Offensive into a political defeat. He mourns the countless innocent victims of the Communist conquest of South Vietnam, which was the grim consequence of its abandonment by the United States. Thus, he argues, the wrong side won. Finally, with the eyes on Afghanistan, he poses a harrowing question: Are democratic societies, with their proclivity for self-indulgence, politically and psychologically equipped to win a protracted war against a totalitarian foe?