A Novel of Vietnam 1945
“Seymour Topping, reaching deep into his long reportorial career in Asia, has given us a masterful treatment of history as novel in this gripping story of the leaders and their people who lived the Vietnam tragedy.”
— Walter Cronkite
“Seymour Topping has woven a vivid tapestry of political intrigue, love, and conflict around a pivotal moment in history, a moment when America might have avoided its tragic war in Vietnam.”
— Neil Sheehan, Pulitzer Prize author, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
“This remarkable, poignant novel brings alive the strange and inexcusable failure of American policymakers to understand Vietnam before investing 58,000 lives in a fruitless war. Readers will also gain from Seymour Topping’s commanding knowledge of Asian life that shines from every page.”
— Henry F. Graff, Historian and editor, History of the Presidents
“Seymour Topping has bound together two haunting romances: a love story as complicated and urgent as wartime liaisons always are; and the poetic tale of an elusive man known variously as Nguyen Sinh Cung, Nguyen Tat Thanh, Va Ba, Nguyen Ai Quoc, and, finally — under the name that will never disappear from America’s history — Ho Chi Minh. Fatal Crossroads is a lovely, tragic, timeless novel.”
— A.J. Langguth, author, Our Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh was not always an enemy of the United States. There was a time near the close of World War II when American agents of Wild Bill Donovan's Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, lived with Ho Chi Minh, trained and armed his Vietminh cadres. One of them, a medic, saved his life. This novel, based on those OSS operations, unfolds as the United States is poised at a fatal crossroads-to pursue President Roosevelt's vision of a trusteeship for Indochina leading to independence or allow France to resume its colonial control. On a secret mission to realize Roosevelt's vision, Travis Duncan, a special agent of the OSS, undertakes a perilous journey across the China border, eluding bandits and Japanese patrols, to Ho Chi Minh's jungle camp. Duncan is witness in North and South Vietnam to the brutality of the no-holds struggle between Vietnamese nationalists and the French for control of the country. Two women out of Duncan's past become key actors in his mission, one, an aide to Ho Chi Minh, and the other, a Gaullist agent.
The reader will recognize the historical characters in this novel; the other characters are based on real individuals or are fictional personages. They speak to a lost opportunity in dealing with Ho Chi Minh and the French at a turning point in history that might have spared America the agony of the Vietnam War.
Seymour Topping Seymour Topping has devoted much of his fifty years in journalism to covering Vietnam and China as a correspondent and editor. He became the first American correspondent to be stationed in Vietnam after World War II when in 1950 after reporting the Chinese civil war for three years he opened the Associated Press bureau in Saigon. Following two years of roaming Indochina and traveling with the French Foreign Legion along the China border, he went to posts in London and Berlin. He joined the New York Times in 1959 and after three years in Moscow as chief correspondent became Chief Correspondent Southeast Asia. He was appointed Foreign Editor in 1969 serving later as Managing Editor for ten years.
The author of Journey Between Two Chinas and The Peking Letter, a Novel of the Chinese Civil War, Topping revisits Asia frequently. He is now SanPaolo Professor Emeritus of International Journalism at Columbia University. and lives with his wife, Audrey, a photojournalist, in Scarsdale, New York.
EastBridge Signature Books
ISBN 1-891936-69-7 (hb) $29.95