Elbridge Durbrow’s War in Vietnam

The Ambassador’s Influence on American Involvement, 1957–1961


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About the Book

Elbridge Durbrow served as the third United States ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam from 1957 to 1961. His relationships with Vietnamese president Ngô Đình Diệm and members of the Military Assistance Advisory Group in Saigon helped to shape his tenure in office, which ultimately concluded with his decision to end his support for the Vietnamese leader as well as turn away from the American military representatives who had earned Ngô Đình Diệm’s trust.

This triangular relationship was mired in clashes of ego and personality that often interfered with the American decision making process. Durbrow and his embassy staff, rather than work with the Vietnamese leadership, chose to focus on the negative and reported to Washington only those items that reinforced this perspective. They created an atmosphere of distrust and anxiety that neither the Americans nor Vietnamese could overcome in the 1960s and helped to create the conditions for greater United States involvement in Southeast Asia.

About the Author(s)

Ronald Bruce Frankum, Jr., is a history professor and chair of the Department of History at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. A previous associate director and archivist for the Vietnam Center at Texas Tech University, he has written several books on the Vietnam War era.

Bibliographic Details

Ronald Bruce Frankum, Jr
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 271
Bibliographic Info: 8 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7775-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3620-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

A Note on Sources and Names vii
Preface 1
1. A Short Honeymoon in Saigon 5
2. “The Miracle Man of Vietnam”: Durbrow and Ngô Đình Diệm Visit the United States 14
3. Formulating Vietnam Strategy, 1957 24
4. Funding the Vietnam Strategy, 1957 36
5. Planning for Victory: MAAG, Durbrow and Ngô Đình Diệm 52
6. The Politics of Opposition 65
7. The War at Home and on the Periphery: American Criticism of Ngô Đình Diệm 78
8. The Laotian Crisis, 1959 88
9. The Cambodian Affair, 1959 99
10. The Unending War of Respect: Colegrove Replaces Cambodia 110
11. National Assembly Elections and Question of Democracy 122
12. The Struggles of a Young Republic 135
13. American Lines Divide Over Vietnam 146
14. The Vietnam Triangle: Durbrow, Lansdale and Williams 157
15. Influencing Ngô Đình Diệm and the Abortive November 1960 Coup d’état 168
16. Durbrow’s Last Days in Vietnam 184
Conclusion 196
Chapter Notes 199
Bibliography 251
Index 257

Book Reviews & Awards

“Meticulously researched…written in clear accessible prose…an important book and a positive addition to the record of America’s early involvement in the Vietnam War”—The VVA Veteran