Max Boot on Edward Lansdale
Edward Lansdale is truly a forgotten man in American history. Yet he once wielded enormous influence, and his methods and tactics hold valuable lessons for leaders today. So argues Max Boot, best-selling historian, Octavian board member, and author of the excellent new biography of Lansdale The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam. We spoke with Max about his book, American foreign policy, and what lies ahead for the U.S.
Max Boot is a military historian and foreign-policy analyst who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Boot is the author of the forthcoming book The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam, which has been called a “superb history of the Vietnam conflict” (Booklist) and “essential reading” (Kirkus).
Boot’s newest book—The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam—will come out from Norton/Liveright in early 2018. It has been called a “brilliant biography” (General David Petraeus), “engrossing” (Karl Marlantes), and a “probing, timely study of wrong turns in the American conduct of the Vietnam War” (Kirkus, starred review).
Boot is the author of three previous, widely acclaimed books: the New York Times bestseller Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (W.W. Norton & Co./Liveright, 2013), which the Wall Street Journal said “is destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war”; War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today (Gotham Books, 2006), which was hailed as a “magisterial survey of technology and war” by the New York Times; and The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (Basic Books, 2002), which won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation as the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history and has been placed on Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy professional reading lists.
Boot has served as an adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also a senior foreign policy adviser to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007–08, a defense policy adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2011–12, and the head of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group for Marco Rubio’s campaign in 2015-2016.
Boot is a frequent public speaker and guest on radio and television news programs, both at home and abroad. He has lectured on behalf of the U.S. State Department and at many military institutions, including the Army, Navy, and Air War Colleges, the Australian Defense College, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, West Point, and the Naval Academy.
In 2004, he was named by the World Affairs Councils of America as one of “the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy.” In 2007, he won the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism, given annually to a writer who exhibits “love of country and its democratic institutions” and “bears witness to the evils of totalitarianism.”
Before joining the Council in 2002, Boot spent eight years as a writer and editor at the Wall Street Journal, the last five as op-ed editor. From 1992 to 1994 he was an editor and writer at the Christian Science Monitor.
Boot holds a bachelor’s degree in history, with high honors, from the University of California, Berkeley (1991), and a master’s degree in history from Yale University (1992). He was born in Moscow, grew up in Los Angeles, and now lives in the New York area.