Finding the Dragon Lady

Finding the Dragon Lady

The Mystery of Vietnam's Madame Nhu

Book - 2013
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In November 1963, the president of South Vietnam and his brother were brutally executed in a coup that was sanctioned and supported by the American government. President Kennedy later explained to his close friend Paul "Red" Fay that the reason the United States made the fateful decision to get rid of the Ngos was in no small part because of South Vietnam's first lady, Madame Nhu. "That goddamn bitch," Fay remembers President Kennedy saying, "She's responsible ... that bitch stuck her nose in and boiled up the whole situation down there."

The coup marked the collapse of the Diem government and became the US entry point for a decade-long conflict in Vietnam. Kennedy's death and the atrocities of the ensuing war eclipsed the memory of Madame Nhu--with her daunting mixture of fierceness and beauty. But at the time, to David Halberstam, she was "the beautiful but diabolic sex dictatress," and Malcolm Browne called her "the most dangerous enemy a man can have."

By 1987, the once-glamorous celebrity had retreated into exile and seclusion, and remained there until young American Monique Demery tracked her down in Paris thirty years later. Finding the Dragon Lady is Demery's story of her improbable relationship with Madame Nhu, and--having ultimately been entrusted with Madame Nhu's unpublished memoirs and her diary from the years leading up to the coup--the first full history of the Dragon Lady herself, a woman who was feared and fantasized over in her time, and who singlehandedly frustrated the government of one of the world's superpowers.
Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, [2013]
ISBN: 9781610392815
1610392817
Characteristics: xi, 258 pages, 8 un-numbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

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LPL_DanC Sep 24, 2015

If you are a history buff, or interested in true accounts of researchers tracking down mysterious, reclusive figures, this will be a page turner. Author Demery was always fascinated by Madame Nhu, who served as de facto first lady of South Vietnam during the presidency of her brother-in-law in the early 1960s. Demery locates Madame Nhu 50 years later, living in obscurity in a Paris apartment. This book tells the story of Demery's search, and what she learned about Madame Nhu's life before, during, and after the Vietnam War.

c
CRAIGEEJ
Sep 18, 2014

A great read talk about a woman of determination and the tiger skins alone were worth the read and they even threw in Beverly Hills. who'd a thunk it. But when your locked up in a dark room with your mother for months after your birth I guess you "HEAR" things.

r
Rock_Shadow
Nov 23, 2013

Though only president Diem’s sister-in-law, Madame Nhu was a driving force of the presidency, with her iron will, morality laws such as outlawing abortion, divorce, adultery, contraceptives, beauty pageants and more. I admire Demery for her tenacity in finding and interviewing the recluse Dragon Lady, and for bringing her story to the spotlight. Through Demery’s book I learned a lot more about why and how the Vietnam War started. The web of intimate details of the Vietnamese presidential family, of the influence of the American press, and of political intrigue both in Vietnam and in the US was well researched. Demery didn’t have a chance to truly get inside of Madame Nhu, but what she did find was amazing enough.

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