Book reviews, and endorsements from Madeleine Albright, Al Gore and Pete Peterson

Book review by Thomas Bo Pedersen, published on his Wordpress:

Osius has taken it upon himself to document how this amazing development has come about, including sharing his personal encounters with the men and women on both sides, who made it happen. There are many, many factors in this painstaking process. To mention a few:

- Laborious confidence-building on both sides as a very difficult precondition, not least in the relations between Vietnam and the overseas refugee communities in the US and elsewhere.

- Dealing with the legacies of war, including the lingering and devastating consequences of Agent Orange exposure and unexploded bombs and mines, making millions of hectares hazardous in Vietnam (and Laos and Cambodia) for generations to come.

- Development of the framework for international cooperation, including investment and trade.

- Large scale cooperation within regional security, health, education, and culture. 

The US-Vietnam to-do list is much, much longer, and it is eloquently elaborated by Osius in his book. Admirably, he has managed to get it all down in less than 300 pages. 

Book review by David Brown, published on Asia Sentinel:

A reader curious to learn why Washington and Hanoi are now contemplating a "comprehensive strategic relationship" won't be disappointed by Ted Osius’ book. There is lucid discussion, inter alia, of the step-by-step development of ‘strategic trust’ between the military establishments of both nations. Osius illuminates the lengthy negotiations that persuaded Vietnam to take on the obligations of the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" trade pact (a breakthrough junked by Donald Trump as soon as he took office). Osius writes also of the persuasion operations that culminated in General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong's July 2015 visit with Barack Obama -- the first Oval Office meeting between a Communist party head and a sitting US president (Obama) since Nikita Khruschev in 1959.

Nothing is Impossible pays scant attention to the elephant in the room, Xi Jinping's "rising China." Already during Osius' tenure, Beijing was pressing its preposterous claim to sovereignty over the South China Sea. It manifested this existential threat to Vietnam's security by increasingly provocative naval maneuvers. That's the main topic of US Embassy attention and one that's regularly chewed over by countless pundits. Osius prudently declines to share any secrets.

Notable book endorsements

Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State: America’s reconciliation with Vietnam is one of the most remarkable diplomatic stories of the past three decades, and Ambassador Ted Osius was at the center of it all. In his new book, Ambassador Osius takes readers behind the scenes of this initiative, helping them understand how two old enemies came together to forge a better future for their people. Nothing is Impossible is an absorbing memoir from one of America’s finest diplomats.

Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States: This is a lot more than a first-rate memoir. It is a brilliantly organized account of a decades-long struggle towards reconciliation, not just on the part of two governments but on the part of two nations bearing the physical and emotional scars of a protracted war.  As U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, Ted was far more than merely diligent. He was intensely creative in finding ways, both moral and material, to soften bitter memories with new hope. In the process, he served the strategic interests of the United States by stressing common interests and building mutual respect.  His work in Vietnam is a reminder of something often overlooked in our country: the extraordinary value of its professional Foreign Service -- which I personally saw every day as Vice President, and which is clear as day on the pages of this book.

Pete Peterson, former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam: Ted’s evocative book, Nothing Is Impossible, instantly took me down a path of very fond memories. His story is an extremely personal one for me as well; one that brings back countless recollections of people, places, events, and hard decisions, some of which evoked forgotten moments when history was made. His lively firsthand account of the timing, the key players, and the complex circumstances leading to the reconciliation and development of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam will keep readers glued to the book’s pages. Anyone interested in an expertly detailed account of U.S.–Vietnam relations will discover that Nothing Is Impossible is a gold mine of historical and interesting anecdotal information.

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