Kissinger’s Betrayal

How America Lost the Vietnam War

What really happened in Vietnam?

For five decades, conventional wisdom about the Vietnam War has been that it was lost because it never could have been won. South Vietnam was doomed to defeat. The American effort was a foreign intrusion forever incapable of winning the “hearts and minds” of the South Vietnamese people.

But what if South Vietnam was defeated not because of its own shortcomings but because it was betrayed by a secret deal made behind its back? 

Deeply researched and compellingly argued, Kissinger’s Betrayal uses once-secret files of the American ambassador to South Vietnam and long-overlooked documents from official government archives—including the foreign ministry of the Soviet Union—to reveal for the first time how Henry Kissinger personally and secretly schemed to irrevocably compromise South Vietnam’s chances for survival.

Without informing his president, other American leaders, or US allies in South Vietnam, Kissinger unilaterally made a horrendous—and ultimately completely unnecessary—diplomatic concession that allowed Communist North Vietnam to leave its army inside South Vietnam and then freely resume its war of invasion and conquest at a time of its own choosing.

In an unprecedented account, historian and global executive director of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism Stephen B. Young provides new insight into both genuine Vietnamese Nationalism and the French colonialism that marginalized and decentered the right of the Vietnamese people to live freely in an independent country of their own choosing.

Kissinger’s Betrayal reveals a fresh and more truthful history of the Vietnam War that restores dignity to America as well as the people of Vietnam.

ISBN: 978-1-63755-359-6
SKU: 18-987-01
Categories:Timely Politics and Current Affairs, RealClear Publishing, History, Politics and Current Affairs, Politics and Current Affairs, RealClear Publishing

"Supported by a treasure trove of archival materials from both American and Soviet sources, the most damning of which are replicated in the book’s appendix, the book makes a convincing case that Kissinger worked unilaterally in secret negotiations with the Soviets that granted unparalleled concessions to the North Vietnamese army. Proceeding from this central thesis, backed by impressive research necessitating nearly 500 endnotes, the book makes an effective case that America not only abandoned South Vietnam, but actively undermined its future as a viable, independent nation." —Kirkus

"Drawing on declassified documents, memoirs, and personal conversations, the book builds its case against Kissinger, suggesting that Kissinger’s views on the war evolved over time and that Kissinger kept the US and South Vietnamese governments in the dark as he negotiated with communist Hanoi to give it a clear military advantage. It’s a damning perspective on an already polarizing figure. Further, documents included in the back of the book allow for independent assessment of some of Kissinger’s actions and communications with others...Kissinger’s Betrayal uses historical documents and analyses to show that ignorance, prejudice, and malice contributed to a notorious military defeat, and the rise of a dictatorship, in Vietnam." —Foreword Reviews

"An excellent account for readers with all levels of knowledge of the region, and will be especially meaningful for Vietnamese-Americans...Young’s scholarly and nuanced explanation of the conflict, and important events that preceded and succeeded it, is grounded in first-hand knowledge and genuine care for Southeast Asian people." —BlueInk Review

“I first met Steve Young more than half a century ago when I was an Army captain on detail to the American embassy in Saigon as an expert on Vietnamese Communism. Steve was an extraordinary figure even then, held in the highest esteem by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Deputy CORDS Director Bill Colby. The reason was clear—few if any Americans in Vietnam at the time rivaled his in-country experience and extraordinary command of Vietnam and its language and culture. After the war, he distinguished himself as a legal scholar and dean at Harvard and other law schools and in the private sector. Honorable people can disagree about the relative American contributions to that outcome—and Robert McNamara, the news media, Congress, and John Kerry certainly played notorious roles—but it is difficult to read the once highly classified documents disclosed in this landmark study without concluding Henry Kissinger betrayed his public trust and contributed to the deaths of millions of South Vietnamese and Cambodians and the loss of freedom for countless more. This book is highly recommended for scholars, students, policymakers, and the public alike seeking to understand this important if painful part of our history. Failing to understand the lessons of history would add to the tragedy. Kissinger’s Betrayal is arguably the most important single source published in decades for understanding why America went to war in Vietnam, why doing so was important, and what went wrong and ultimately led to a Communist victory.”—Prof. Robert F. Turner, SJD, former president of the U.S. Institute of Peace, author of Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development, and co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia

Stephen B. Young


Stephen B. Young is the global executive director of the Caux Round Table for Moral Capitalism and the author of Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good, The Tradition of Human Rights in China and Vietnam, and The Theory and Practice of Associative Power: CORDS in the Villages of Vietnam 1967–1972.

He and his wife, Pham Thi Hoa, translated from Vietnamese the novel about Ho Chi Minh published as The Zenith. His 1968–1971 service in Vietnam for the US Agency for International Development in village development and counterinsurgency was highly praised by President Richard Nixon, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby, and ambassador to Saigon Ellsworth Bunker.

In 1975 and again in 1978, Young took a lead in successful efforts to resettle refugees from South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the United States. For many years Young was a confidant of Nguyen Ngoc Huy, the founder of the Tan Dai Viet Nationalist political party in South Vietnam.

Young also served as an assistant dean at the Harvard Law School and dean and professor of law at the Hamline University School of Law. He graduated from the International School in Bangkok, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School.

In 1966, Young discovered the Bronze Age culture of the village of Ban Chiang in Northeast Thailand, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 1989, he proposed the formation of a United Nations interim administration for Cambodia to finally put an end to the Killing Fields in that country.