The Road Not Taken by Max Boot

The Road Not Taken

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 ...

Details The Road Not Taken

TitleThe Road Not Taken
Release DateJan 9th, 2018
PublisherLiveright Publishing Corporation/W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
GenreHistory, Biography, Nonfiction, War, Military, Military History

Reviews The Road Not Taken

  • Hadrian
    For a reasonable negative review, read here: Only a man could climb a ladder, and yet I couldn't think of it as a man like myself—it was as though an animal were moving in to kill, very quietly and certainly with the remorselessness of another kind of creation. The ladder shook and shook and I imagined I saw its eyes glaring upwards. -Graham Greene, "The Quiet American"Edward Lansdale's reputation is larg...
  • Steven Z.
    The popularity of the new film, “The Post” has refocused the attention of many people on the PENTAGON PAPERS and the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the history of the war commissioned by then Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to the New York Times created a crisis atmosphere that was settled by the Supreme Court. In his latest book, THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: EDWARD LANSDALE AND THE TRAGEDY OF VIETNAM, Max Boot, a Senior Fellow in Natio...
  • Mike
    I’m not a fan of Max Boot the commentator but I shouldn’t let that affect my view on his book. Giving it 4 Stars, maybe a little generous but it is worth your time to learn more about Lansdale and his impact on the Philippines and Vietnam. I was going to write more of a review but I don’t really think Max Boot is worth time better spent reading something else.
  • Marks54
    This is a clever and interesting book. I also understand what the author is trying to accomplish by structuring this biography around the “what if” questions around how the Vietnam war might have developed had Landsdale been granted more influence. The policy questions around Landsdale’s approach to what become COIN warfare make this biography of someone who passed away in 1987 important in a world of perpetual war in Afghanistan and Iraq a...
  • Joyce
    More Vietnam War-related reading. This time, a sprawling biography of CIA operative Edward Lansdale, a "creative and unpredictable maverick" and "expert in counterinsurgency." His career started in WWII but he gained fame afterward for his work in the Philippines, where he developed the philosophy of winning the hearts and minds of the people, not overwhelming them with military power and troops. He advocated that policy in Vietnam but was ignore...
  • David C Ward
    Quite good. A biography of the legendary counter insurgent Lansdale that is also a history and critique of American foreign policy. Could the war in Vietnam have ended differently if Lansdale had had a more central role, and hearts and minds emphasized over big unit military ops? Maybe but Lansdale was defeated not just by being a lone voice in the bureaucracy (which stifled him) but also by the forces on the ground. The political instability aft...
  • Chad Manske
    An exceptional and fresh look at Vietnam (and the Philippine) wars through the prism of Maj Gen (ret) Ed Landsdale’s life. I served at CFR with Max Boot while a military fellow, and though I am not always a fan of his commentary, he is undeniably a thorough, compelling and extremely credible researcher and book author. Readers are treated to recently released and declassified documents, letters and other source material into a compelling histor...
  • Jud Barry
    This is what might be called a situational biography of Edward Lansdale, an influential actor in American foreign policy -- primarily in the Philippines and Vietnam -- in the 1950's and the 1960's. "The road not taken" refers to Lansdale's favored policy path, which he referred to as "civic action," and which involved supporting efforts by native politicians to shore up democratic practices and infrastructure as the best hedges against insurrecti...
  • Randy
    Any Goodreads member knows something about Ed Lansdale as he is thought by many to be the model for Graham Greene’s “Quiet American” (not true), Colonel Hillandale in “The Ugly American” (probably true) and even the inspiration for General Y in Oliver Stone’s “JFK.” This is a terrific biography which spends a lot of time connecting the dots and providing context for what has to be seen as an amazing life. In the same way that one ...
  • Gavin
    I very much enjoyed this. Edward Lansdale's life is a tale of what might have been in Vietnam. The US off and on tries counter-insurgency or COIN, but Lansdale showed what was possible.It's too bad that the establishment has to go its own way and won't listen to those who have another way.Kudos to Max Boot for this. A lot of details and research here.The afterword where Max breaks down Lansdale's gift to us is "the three L's":1. Learn2. Like3. Li...
  • Dоcтоr
  • Bob H
    This is, first off, a comprehensive biography of Edward Lansdale, his origins and upbringing, his career in advertising and as a US gov't operative and adviser, and his involvement with US counterinsurgency efforts in the mid-20th Century, first in the Philippines and later in Vietnam. It's a sympathetic portrayal, and his life certainly was adventurous, and against a background of war and diplomacy. Max Boot makes much of his "Quiet American", h...
  • Chris
    Don’t let the page count influence you into not reading this book. It just flows and flows. It goes with the flow. Zen warrior motif. An absorbing account of an unusual man who was an atypical soldier. Robert Lansdale had lots of personal capital with Magsaysay and Diem. It was genuine friendship too. Boot laments that we had no equivalent of Lansdale while dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan. I would disagree as Stanley McChrystal and Karzai wer...
  • Steve
    A very interesting book. Someone I never heard of before and this book peaked my interest. I have read books on the Vietnam War and read such classics as Harold Moore's We Were Soldiers Once and Young. This book tells the story of a covert American operative named Edward Lansdale. Lansdale set up operations in South Vietnam for the South Vietnamese to fight against the North Vietnamese Army and was there when the South Vietnamese president Diem, ...
  • Dean
    Just more confirmation of the tragedy of wasted blood and treasure in Vietnam. Lansdale another dissenting voice ignored about how to fight and win a counter insurgency. Think we still would have lost in Vietnam even if Lansdale had been listened and followed but lost a lot less blood and treasure. Note to present and futute practitioners from Lansdale can't bomb an idea into oblivion. Need a better competitive idea.
  • Robert
    Boot has written a sympathetic but not uncritical biography of a forgotten American Cold War warrior of a non- violent nature. If that sounds anomalous, it is because Edward Lansdale, a military man— an Army and Air Force officer and a CIA agent in the Philippines and Vietnam— was a master practitioner of a then and still unorthodox way of fighting a guerrilla insurgency: help people to establish, support and then nurture a popular government...
  • Stuart Miller
    A sympathetic but objective examination of the life and times of Edward Lansdale, the "T.E. Lawrence of Asia". Boot believes that Lansdale has been unfairly dismissed by journalists and historians as either naive or crazy in his approach to combating Communist insurgencies in the "third world" countries founded in the aftermath of World War II and the demise of European colonial empires. Boot makes the argument that Lansdale was one of the few wh...
  • Matthew Gleason
    A phenomenal look at the life of an extraordinary American whose work in the Philippines and Vietnam must not be lost in the expansive writings on those regions. Max Boot expertly weaves his narrative of Lansdale’s career with the political machinations of the time, and delivers a thought provoking read that is germane to the low intensity conflicts of today. I rank this alongside Bernard Fall’s seminal work, “A Street With No Joy,” in it...
  • Joseph Fuller
    The most complete biography of an iconic, if misunderstood figure most often (if incorrectly) identified with the Vietnam War. In some ways is a homage to A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan. John Paul Vann offered a somewhat better platform for discussing Vietnam, but Lansdale's career allows Boot to tell a story of greater breadth, especially about Magsaysay and the ultimate success of what came to be known as counter-insurgency in the Philipp...
  • John Rose
    Great bookGreat allot history lessons we should have learned and followed after Vietnam and would helped in Iraq and Afghanistan you wonder why are leaders don’t read more history
  • Jack
    This book is a dense historical account of the life of Edward Langsdale, post WWII Operative in the Philippines and later in South Vietnam. It is a clear, compelling and interesting tale of a real spy in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.It bothered me that through the entire account of this liberal interventionist, the author never asks the basic questions posed by the consistent failure of modern imperialism. The CIA was an arrogant group of wha...
  • Steve
    Long but very good. Hearts and minds, Civic action. Godfather of counterinsurgency.
  • Tom Blumer
    I found this book to be quite interesting and informative. I had no idea that Ed Lansdale actually existed and had the influence that he had. Although it wS not always followed, his strategy if implemented in Vietnam May have caused a different outcome. We will never know.Quite detailed and an exhaustive treatise, this book is not a quick read.
  • Zach
    Could not put this one down! Superb book and really opens your eyes to a different time when winning hearts and minds was how you were able to have an impact in conflict.
  • John ROSE
    Great book
  • Mike Glaser
    Well worth your time. Do not be intimidated by the size of the book as it reads quick and keeps your interest. An amazing tale about the man that inspired both the Quiet American and the Ugly American with lessons that are still applicable today.
  • Dawn
    This history is not all about Edward Landsdale, nor is it all about what Americans refer to as the Vietnam War (but Vietnamese refer to as the American War). However, it gives a lot of information on events leading up to and power players making the fatal decisions which had so much to do with the massive destruction of life in and around Vietnam in the 1950s-1970s. Edward Landsdale was a American citizen who was part of the Department of Defense...
  • Michael Ting
    Engrossing and very much a page-turner.
  • Warren Fretwell
    SPOILER ALERT: I reveal a detail that probably won't spoil your reading of the book, but it does give a little something away. If you look at the photos in the book before you read it, you'll also discover the spoiler!"The Road..." reminds me of Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie," inasmuch as both view American foreign policy through the perspective of pivotal players. Of course, Max Boot addresses both the U.S. involvements in the Philippines...
  • Lynn
    To simply refer to Edward Lansdale as a legendary CIA operative does an incredible disservice to the man and his ideals. Max Boot covers his career from his early successes to his fall from the graces of the politicians and military leaders who were his superiors. It covers the ugly ins and outs of how how the forces of Washington politics and military leadership (and the egos involved) so seriously affected decision making. Lansdale's ideas of w...