I have finally found the definitive work that explains why the United States ultimately lost the Vietnam War. Seen through the prism of the extraordinary intervening actions of senior CIA operative Edward Lansdale during the 50s and 60s, this conflict is examined in all its complexities as a major military opportunity grossly bungled from start to finish because there was no workable plan in place. Here are a number of things I learned: one, the CIA played a key role in bringing the US into South Vietnam as the French vacated in 1954; two, the US shunned any efforts to assist Ho Chi Minh in filling the political vacuum because it wrongly suspected him of being a Moscow stooge; three, right from the getgo, Washington and the Eisenhower administration backed a pro-western regime, led by the Diem brothers, that was committed to destroying the Vietminh because of their Marxist ideology; four, South Vietnam, due in large part to ruthless policies, gradually became a very divided nation along religious, economic and religious lines; five, Ho Chi Minh continued to successfully arm a growing insurgency in the south; six, Uncle Ho was as much a nationalist as a follower of the Communist International; seven, Lansdale, as a highly skilled advisor, advocated a policy of developing a counter-insurgency that gave nationals a lead role in actively engaging and defeating the enemy; eight, successive American governments increasingly subscribed to the view that the Vietcong could only be beaten by managing the war as a corporate enterprise from stateside; nine, no matter how many times the White House and the Pentagon changed course – regime change, troop surge, aerial bombing, pacification – the North always had the whip hand because it had infiltrated the countryside and won the hearts of the peasants; ten, the US got caught in a false narrative where it generated numbers that created the public impression that it was winning a war of attrition. In all these points, the weakest link in the war for the US military was its inability to effectively work with the South Vietnam army and airforce. In the end, the North won because the US failed to break its will to fight in spite of infinitely greater casualties, inferior fire power, and limited financial backing. Where the insurgents succeeded was its serious knowledge of jungle warfare, sophisticated supply system, and the element of surprise. To achieve that position of incredible fortitude required years of building a network of intelligence for a war of liberation. Knowing this, the question begs asking: if the Americans knew in 1954 what they finally realized In 1968, would they have got entangled in this war?