NO PEACE, NO HONOR: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam

Larry Berman, Author . Free Press $27.50 (352p) ISBN 978-0-684-84968-3

Henry Kissinger shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho for brokering the peace treaty that ended American participation in the Vietnam War in January of that year. Le Duc Tho declined the prize. Berman's eye-opening book makes a strong case—although he does not say so—that Kissinger should have turned down the prize as well. Making perceptive use of a large cache of recently declassified American and Vietnamese documents, Berman (of the University of California's Washington, D.C., Center) paints a decidedly negative picture of Kissinger's motives and machinations during the four years he negotiated with the North Vietnamese. Kissinger, Berman writes, "was willing to tell one side one thing and the other the opposite, leaving them to sort things out later." Berman's pioneering research indicates also that President Richard Nixon claimed he achieved "peace with honor" while knowing full well that the terms he agreed to would lead eventually to a North Vietnamese military victory following America's withdrawal. Berman also shows that the North Vietnamese were far from blameless during the negotiating. Their leaders regularly deceived the American negotiators and never planned to live up to the peace terms they signed. Surprisingly, the one group of leaders that comes out relatively unscathed is the notoriously corrupt South Vietnamese regime headed by Nguyen Van Thieu, which wound up agreeing to peace terms dictated by North Vietnam and the United States—terms that all but ordained South Vietnam's eventual fall to the Communists in April 1975. (Aug.)

Forecast:With Christopher Hitchens's The Trial of Henry Kissinger and other books critical of the former secretary of state beginning to crowd the shelves, look for pundits to brandish this carefully argued monograph.

Reviewed on: 05/28/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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