In this book, Joseph G. Morgan examines the career of Wesley Fishel, a political scientist who vigorously supported American intervention in the Vietnam War, which he deemed a "great, and tragic, American experiment.” Morgan demonstrates how Fishel continued to champion the prospect of an independent South Vietnam, even when Vietnamese resistance and infighting among American and Vietnamese leaders undermined this effort. Morgan also analyzes how opponents of the war questioned Fishel’s scholarly integrity and his academic collaboration with the US government in implementing Cold War policies.
Joseph G. Morgan is associate professor of history at Iona College.
Chapter One: “Diem Is a Keen Person,” 1919-1954
Chapter Two: “I’ve Never Seen a Situation like This,” 1954-1955
Chapter Three: “Wesley, in a Sense, Has Not Been Able to Produce,” 1956-1958
Chapter Four: “A Clumsy, Bumbling Regime,” 1958-1963
Chapter Five: “There Is Really No Other Choice but to Stand and Fight,” 1964-1966
Chapter Six: The “Biggest Operator of them all,” 1966-1968
Chapter Seven: “Off AID, Off CIA and Wesley Fishel,” 1969-1970
Chapter Eight: “A Great, and Tragic, American Experiment,” 1970-1977
Joseph Morgan’s welcome biography of Wesley Fishel makes several important contributions to the literature on the Vietnam War. It expands upon and clarifies the activities of a sometimes controversial and often little-understood player in U.S. relations with Ngo Dinh Diem and the government in Saigon. More broadly, it captures in this one man’s story the early enthusiasm and eventual frustration that colored America’s national engagement with South Vietnam over two decades. As a final bonus, it gives valuable insights into the troubled role often played by American academics in support of Washington’s Cold War policies.
This book is a thoughtful reflection on the role the U.S. academy played in the Cold War and of one’s man role at the outset of what would become a “tragic American experiment."