Triumph a first person account, but he is able

Triumph Forsaken covers the years of 1954-1965 of the Vietnam War, just after
France’s defeat but before the United States entangled itself.
Author Mark Moyar does his homework to establish
that the Vietnam War was not “wrongheaded and unjust” but rather
“a noble but improperly executed enterprise.”1 The author is a
historian, holding his Ph.D. in history from Cambridge University and is more
than qualified to speak on the subject of Vietnam because of the diligence involved
in his work. In Triumph Forsaken,
Moyar offers a “revisionist” take on the war. The overarching argument Moyar
makes is that the United States and South Vietnam could have won the war if
they ardently supported South Vietnamese President Ngo Dihn Diem and never
allowed for his assassination. To corroborate his central theme, Moyar reviews
the major characters, battles, and policy decisions involved in the war during
this period.

In this dissection, I will argue that Moyar is seemingly
objective in his revisionist version of the Vietnam War. I will do so by
pointing towards Moyar’s use of sources throughout the book. I will also then
demonstrate how Moyar did a great job in illustrating events for the reader in
a clear and articulate manner, however I will also provide few critiques of his

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Moyar’s educational background in history and Vietnam make him
qualified to talk about the subject of Vietnam. It might not be a first person
account, but he is able to pull from a wide variety of resources in order to
enlighten people about the war. The amount of
detail in the description and the meticulous research revealed by the 93 pages
of references and index is truly notable.2
What sets this book apart from others is that Moyar presents an account that is
reflective of nearly every side of the conflict. He does so by crafting full
usage of groundbreaking declassified
US Intelligence files, records from the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson
Administrations, and access to North Vietnamese historical archives. Moyar utilizes many resources to help strengthen the
validity of his claims. For example, when Moyar
rightfully asserted that the Vietnamese culture and values conflicted with
American culture and values, leading to the fragmentation between President Ngo
Dinh Diem and American leaders, he cites President Diem himself to make this
point. Moyar quotes Diem’s resistance to turning Vietnam into a Little America
from one of his interviews with a reporter from the New York Herald Tribune
named Marguerite Higgins: “I cannot seem to convince the Embassy that this is
Vietnam- not the United States of America … Procedures applicable to one
culture cannot be wholly transplanted to another culture.”3
The words are from President Diem, himself.

Later, in showing how self-serving reporters knowingly bended
facts to influence public opinion, Moyar takes the actual pivotal accounts
of American reporters David Halberstam and Neil Sheehanand to challenge much of
what became the U.S. interpretation of it’s involvement there.4
Moyar rather convincingly reveals the inaccuracies of Halberstan and Sheehan that
led to dangerous consequences. For example, Moyar cites multiple instances
where Halbertson falsifies accounts and public opinions regarding the pagoda
raids and never retracts them. “One other false massacre story emerged from
Halberstam’s typewriter on August 24, never to be retracted,” that Catholic and
Buddhist troops fought each other with 60 killed and 120 wounded.5
 Moyar later points out that Halberstan grossly exaggerated
the opposition against President Diem when really there were plenty of Diem
loyalists who would defend Diem. Unfortunately, in Moyar’s perspective,
Halbertstam’s contempt for the Diem regime and his biased and false reports led
to a reduction in Diem’s prestige and eventually his demise. 6
demise unfortunately led to a destabilized South Vietnam.

Moyar carries the reader through the Vietnam War journey in a chronological,
detailed, and coherent manner despite that his basic premise flips over orthodox
notions of the War. One way he does so is by providing photographs where
needed. 7Each
chapter is also organized sequentially according to key interval controversies
during the period Moyar covers in the conflict. This allows the reader to
clearly understand where in the timeline of events they are in the book. For
example, under the title of each chapter Moyar provides an exact time frame the
chapter is discussing as seen in Chapter 16 “The Prize for Victory: January-May

few critiques of Moyar’s work are that it lacks an
understanding of how veterans actually observed things. He also takes his
sources and original documents from varied governments at face value.
There is also a concern that his view that one can
succeed if one just intervenes a little more harshly only broadcasts
imperialist sentiments. Lastly, is Moyar
practicing selective use of historical data? Is he sharing all that can be
shared from his primary and secondary sources when he quotes key players?  It’s difficult to tell without deeper
investigation of the sources he cites.

In conclusion, Triumph
Forsaken details how the South Vietnamese could have won if the U.S. government
had endured President Diem and not allowed for his assassination, not vigorously
imposed American values upon Vietnam, and if the American public was not swayed
by biased media. Mark Moyar diligently provides resources and authorities to
make his case and provides a generally well-rounded and refreshing perspective
on the Vietnam War.

1 Moyar
Mark, Triumph Forsaken: the Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2009), xi.

2 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 417-512.

3 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 229.

4 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, xvi.

5 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 234.

6 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 235.

7 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 228-229.

8 Moyar, Triumph
Forsaken, 350.