Max Bot Short Biography

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He was the least secret secret agent on the planet in the 1950s and 1960s, best-selling author Max Boot described the subject of his new book Thursday afternoon at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. "He was said to be the model for the ugly American and the quiet American. He was acquiring all sorts of nicknames and the T. Lawrence of Arabia and the American James Bond," said Boot.

Boot spoke at the about his new book "The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam," a biography of the United States Air Force officer Edward Lansdale.

Boot is a military historian and foreign policy expert, with several other popular books under his belt. It was his last book, New York Times Bestseller "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present," that inspired Boot to research more about the Air Force officer that served both in the OSS and CIA. His curiosity
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This skill led him to the Philippines, where picked a protégé, Magsaysay, who he helped model in a way that benefitted the United States' anti-communism stance. Magsaysay eventually won the presidential election in 1953 and Landsdale earned a nickname: Landslide Lansdale.

"This was one of the great unsung victories of the Cold War for the United States," said Boot.

Landsdale's respect was soaring back in Washington. CIA Director Allan Dulles asked him if he could replicate what in Vietnam in 1954, and he did. He found another protégé, Ngô Đình Diệm, and started cultivating him, even without speaking any Vietnamese.

"How did he do it? He listened rather than lectured. We Americans like to go to the developing world and tell them what to do. That wasn't the Lansdale way," said Boot.

Boot said Lansdale worked in a subtle way to gain trust, rephrasing Diệm's ideas, but injecting his own ideas in a way that made Diệm believe he had thought of them
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