Lansdale and his team, including Phillips, scored some early successes in helping the new country get on its feet, and they were highly regarded by President Diem
and other Vietnamese leaders.
According to the author, South Vietnamese President Diem
, a Catholic, manipulated not only the French and American governments but utilized senior Catholic officials to influence policy.
He parades a bewildering array of persona and factions across the stage, to the extent that any reasonable reader might wonder how anyone in Washington could understand what was actually happening in Saigon in the year leading up to the November 1963 coup that took the lives of President Diem
and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu.
From the early 1960s, before many Americans had heard of Vietnam, he was committed to influencing United States policy in that country, which he said was taking an erroneous path in supporting Vietnam's President Diem
President John E Kennedy had President Diem
of Vietnam assassinated, something which has remained a blot on his record.
In spite of the harsh military regime of South Vietnamese President Diem
, Communist sympathizers took to the jungles where their numbers grew to some 15,000.
And they were already close to President Diem
and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, before President Kennedy made his decision that a major counter insurgency operation should be launched.
officially initiated the Strategic Hamlet program on April 17, 1962.