The Vietnam War cost the lives of more than 58,000 Americans (and millions of Vietnamese) and convulsed U.S. politics and culture in the 1960s. Could it have ended years earlier, and with a far smaller toll? Evidence from long-hidden communist sources sheds new light on one of the war's most controversial and enduring mysteries: it suggests–contrary to conventional wisdom–that a chance for direct discussions between Washington and Hanoi existed in 1966, years before the Paris talks.

James G. Hershberg is associate professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University and former director of the Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project. His book Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam will be co-published by the Stanford University Press and Wilson Center Press in January.

With a comment by John Carland, who has held official history positions in the Department of Defense and State over the past twenty-five years as a specialist in the history of the United States and the Vietnam War.



  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project