THE PALACE FILE by Nguyen Tien Hung & Jerrold L. Schecter
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Here a former advisor to South Vietnamese President Thieu and a former diplomatic editor of Time (Schecter, An American Family in Moscow) relate in high dramatic style another sad footnote to a tragic chapter of American history. The file consists of 31 letters written by Presidents Nixon and Ford to Thieu from 1971-75. Previously revealed only in small chunks by Hung, who in '75 carried the letters from Saigon for safekeeping, the letters promise America's full diplomatic and military support to the South Vietnamese regime both before and after the signing of the Paris Accords. That this support never materialized, the authors argue, speaks loudly of the untrustworthiness of American diplomacy. Possibly--although in the light of the Watergate duplicities, of which Thieu had full knowledge, one must marvel at the Vietnamese leader's naivetÉ in taking the letters at face value. What is more interesting here than the authors' plaintive laments is their explication of the war from the South Vietnamese point-of-view, a rare look into the psyches of men and women caught up like pawns in a struggle finally determined by the interests of the superpowers involved. Biting cameos of representatives of these superpowers abound: the most damning is accorded to Kissinger, who here lives up to his Machiavellian reputation. The authors finish their presentation with full reproductions of the letters. Despite its moralizing, a fascinating, acerbic, and valuable account of international diplomacy at its darkest.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row