Vietnam’s Year of the Rat

Elbridge Durbrow, Ngô Đình Diệm and the Turn in U.S. Relations, 1959–1961

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About the Book

Vietnam’s Year of the Rat explores the lunar New Year 1960 and the dynamic relationship between two competing groups vying for control in the Republic of Vietnam. One group, led by United States Ambassador Elbridge Durbrow, worked toward directing Vietnam towards an American-style democracy that focused on forcing reforms within the Saigon government. The other group, headed by Republic of Vietnam President Ngô Đình Diệm, attempted to navigate the demands of Durbrow and the State Department and to confront internal opposition and an emerging external threat while trying to further the goals of the Republic.
The result was a series of failed opportunities by both sides to resolve the differences of the two complementary, if conflicting, strategies. Vietnam’s Year of the Rat offers an alternative to the now standard historiography for this period of the study in the Vietnam War by providing a Vietnamese viewpoint into the story of that long and tragic war.

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 (7 x 10)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7815-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1472-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

A Note on Source and Names 1

Preface 3

 1. Exit the Year of the Pig 7

 2. Enter the Year of the Rat 21

 3. Conflicting Personalities and Egos 32

 4. The Caravelle Carnival 50

 5. The French Connection 69

 6. The Turning of the Screw 82

 7. Turning Points: The November 1960 Coup d’État Attempt 93

 8. After the Coup d’État: Saigon Responds 109

 9. Returning to Normality 128

10. A New Year with an Old Problem 144

11. A New Plan for an Old Problem 159

12. Vietnamese Democracy in Action 170

13. April 1961 Election and the Departure of Durbrow 184

Conclusion 203

Appendix: The Republic of Vietnam’s Economy 205

Chapter Notes 207

Bibliography 243

Index 249

Book Reviews & Awards

“meticulous research…Frankum…explains complex series of events in a narrative fashion that is both interesting and informative. Frankum’s effort is a positive addition to scholarship on this topic, and it positively benefits research on MAAG and U.S. involvement in Vietnam prior to 1965”—Military Review.