The Eisenhower Administration developed and implemented policies in Southeast Asia that contributed directly to the massive American military involvement in Vietnam in the decade after Dwight Eisenhower left office. Working with the most recently declassified government records on U.S. policy in Vietnam in the 1950s, David L. Anderson asserts that the Eisenhower Administration was less successful in Vietnam than the revisionists suggests. Trapped By Success is the first systematic study of the entire eight years of the Eisenhower Administration's efforts to build a nation in South Vietnam in order to protect U.S. global interests. Proclaiming success, where, in fact, failure abounded, the Eisenhower Administration trapped itself and its successors into a commitment to the survival of its own frail creation in Indochina. The book is a chronicle of clandestine plots, bureaucratic fights, cultural and strategic mistakes, and missed opportunities.
Anderson examines the politicla environments in Saigon and Washington that contributed to the deepening of American involvement. Contrary to other studies that highlight Eisenhower's restraint in preventing French collapse in Indochina in 1954, Trapped By Success shows how the administration publicly applauded South Veitnam's survival and growing stability, while it was actually producing an almost totally dependent regime that would ultimately consume billions of American dollars and thousands of American lives.