Vietnam's Lost Revolution employs newly-released archival material from Vietnam to examine the rise and fall of the Special Commissariat for Civic Action in the First Republic of Vietnam, and in so doing reassesses the origins of the Vietnam War. A cornerstone of Ngo Dinh Diem's presidency, Civic Action was intended to transform Vietnam into a thriving, modern, independent, noncommunist Southeast Asian nation. Geoffrey Stewart juxtaposes Diem's revolutionary plan with the conflicting and competing visions of Vietnam's postcolonial future held by other indigenous groups. He shows how the government failed to gain legitimacy within the peasantry, ceding the advantage to the communist-led opposition and paving the way for the American military intervention in the mid-1960s. This book provides a richer and more nuanced analysis of the origins of the Vietnam War in which internal struggles over national identity, self-determination, and even modernity itself are central.
Geoffrey C. Stewart is an assistant professor of history at the University of Western Ontario. His research focuses on the intersection of decolonization with the Cold War in the developing world. He specializes in the history of Vietnam's wars, twentieth-century international relations, and the United States in the world. He has published in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and written book reviews for H-Diplo, Cross-Currents and the Journal of Asian Studies.
1. A temporary expedient: the origins of civic action in Vietnam; 2. Nationalism and welfare improvement in the Republic of Vietnam; 3. Revolution, community development, and the construction of Diem's Vietnam; 4. 'Bettering the people's conditions of existence': civic action and community development, 1957-9; 5. Civic action and insurgency; 6. The strategic Hamlet program and civic action in retreat; Conclusion: Vietnam's lost revolution.