The history of the Vietnam War has rarely been told from
the Vietnamese perspective—and never by a leader of that country. In Buddha's Child, Nguyen Cao Ky reveals
the remarkable story of his tumultuous tenure as prime minister of South
Vietnam, and offers unprecedented insight into the war’s beginning, escalation,
and heartbreaking end.
A thirty-four year old pilot and Air Force commander,
known for his fighter-pilot’s moustache, flowing lavender scarf and his
reputation as a ladies’ man, Ky in 1965 agreed to lead South Vietnam after a
series of coups had dangerously destabilized the nation. Ky’s task was to unite
a country riven by political, ethnic, and religious factions and undermined by
corruption. With little experience in governing and none in international
affairs, and while continuing to fly combat missions over Vietnam, Ky plunged
into a war to save his homeland. He served as Premier until 1967, continued to
be active in the war after his resignation, and finally left Vietnam in 1975
during the fall of Saigon.
Buddha’s Child offers Ky’s perspective on the crucial
events and memorable images of the Vietnam War: the coup against and execution
of President Diem; the self-immolation by the Buddhist monk, and the radical
Buddhists’ attempt to topple Ky’s government; the bloody and pivotal Tet
Offensive; the shooting of a Vietcong prisoner, captured in one of the war’s
most notorious photographs; the Paris Peace talks that sold out South Vietnam;
and the last, desperate days of Saigon. In frank language, Ky discusses his own
successes and failures as a leader and dramatically relates the progress of the
war as it unfolded on the ground and behind the scenes—including anecdotes
about Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, William Westmoreland, Henry Cabot Lodge,
William Colby, Henry Kissinger, and many others.
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