In This Review

Buddha's Child: My Fight to Save Vietnam
Buddha's Child: My Fight to Save Vietnam
By Nguyen Cao Ky with Martin J. Wolf
St. Martin's, 2002, 376 pp.

Convinced that he had from birth the special protection of the Buddha, Nguyen Cao Ky, prime minister and vice president of South Vietnam during the war, reveals himself in his memoirs to be arrogant, fearless, and shrewd -- but also charming. He tells much about the inside workings of the Saigon regime, including the clashes of personalities, the corruption, the secret agreements among the military elite, and the personal interactions of American officials and Vietnamese leaders. He dramatizes his own role in holding the country together when confronted with revolts by ambitious military elements, Vietcong agitators, and politicized Buddhist monks. Above all, he documents the weaknesses of President Nguyen Van Thieu. He believes that his own greatest failing was his decision not to run for the presidency. If he had, he claims, he could have saved the South. In the end, his new perspective on recent Vietnamese history does not fit in with the positions of either the hawks or the doves in the divisive American debate about the war.¶