Death of A Generation

Death of A Generation

How the Assassinations of Diem and JFK Prolonged the Vietnam War

Book - 2003
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Jones (history, U. of Alabama) speculates about how things might have turned out differently in Vietnam had John F. Kennedy not been assassinated. Drawing upon recently declassified State Department records, the author contends that Kennedy was on the verge of implementing a plan to withdraw troops from Vietnam a plan which backfired when Diem was assassinated rather than exiled. In Kennedy's absence, Johnson escalated the war and shelved the withdrawal plan. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Oxford University Press
When John F. Kennedy was shot, millions were left to wonder how America, and the world, would have been different had he lived to fulfill the enormous promise of his presidency. For many historians and political observers, what Kennedy would and would not have done in Vietnam has been a source of enduring controversy.
Now, based on convincing new evidence--including a startling revelation about the Kennedy administration's involvement in the assassination of Premier Diem--Howard Jones argues that Kennedy intended to withdraw the great bulk of American soldiers and pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Vietnam.
Drawing upon recently declassified hearings by the Church Committee on the U.S. role in assassinations, newly released tapes of Kennedy White House discussions, and interviews with John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert McNamara, Dean Rusk, and others from the president's inner circle, Jones shows that Kennedy firmly believed that the outcome of the war depended on the South Vietnamese. In the spring of 1962, he instructed Secretary of Defense McNamara to draft a withdrawal plan aimed at having all special military forces home by the end of 1965. The "Comprehensive Plan for South Vietnam" was ready for approval in early May 1963, but then the Buddhist revolt erupted and postponed the program. Convinced that the war was not winnable under Diem's leadership, President Kennedy made his most critical mistake--promoting a coup as a means for facilitating a U.S. withdrawal. In the cruelest of ironies, the coup resulted in Diem's death followed by a state of turmoil in Vietnam that further obstructed disengagement. Still, these events only confirmed Kennedy's view about South Vietnam's inability to win the war and therefore did not lessen his resolve to reduce the U.S. commitment. By the end of November, however, the president was dead and Lyndon Johnson began his campaign of escalation. Jones argues forcefully that if Kennedy had not been assassinated, his withdrawal plan would have spared the lives of 58,000 Americans and countless Vietnamese.
Written with vivid immediacy, supported with authoritative research, Death of a Generation answers one of the most profoundly important questions left hanging in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy's death.

Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2003
ISBN: 9780195052862
Characteristics: x, 562 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map ; 25 cm


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Sep 28, 2013

Howard Jones was dubious about claims that the assignations of Diem and JFK prolonged the Viet American war - until he progressed his research (pg1, introduction). In 1962 JFK sought to reduce US military commitment to a more advisory roll. Howard makes an revealing comment (pg2) "One Washington administration after another embraced unsavoury foreign leaders - as long as they were anti-communist". They were looking to a containment policy to thwart the oncoming communist attack of the Dominos. Which may have well been on, I have to add. There were supplies for the NVA, from China and Soviets, if not for Dominos, then what?! __Interestingly, Stanley Karnow, alleges in his book "The Vietnam War" that the Soviets and Chinese were mearly engaged, between themselves, in a bidding war for influence over the Vietnamese!

Apr 14, 2013

This author is stunningly correct with regard to President Kennedy's planned withdrawal of military advisors originally sent to Vietnam under President Eisenhower (16,800 to 16,900 approximately) but incorrect in blaming Kennedy for the assassination of Diem. Most notably the CIA had their own agenda, and instigated Diem's assassination using Lucien Conein, who would later be involved in President Kennedy's murder, along with shooters from the OAS [Jean Rene Souetre, Lazlo] and a Belgian CIA contract killer, Mozes Maschkivitzan. (Interesting that Dean Rusk, in testimony under oath before the congress, would state that he was still on the payroll of the Rockefeller Foundation while serving as Kennedy's Secretary of State.)


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