Nothing is Impossible: America's Reconciliation with Vietnam.

AuthorViet, Nguyen Tuan

Nothing is Impossible: America's Reconciliation with Vietnam. By Ted Osius. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2022. Hardcover: 332pp.

Nothing is Impossible tells one of the most remarkable diplomatic stories of the past three decades: how the United States and Vietnam, two former implacable enemies, overcame the tragedy of war to build an enduring new relationship aimed at forging a better future for their people.

The book, written as a personal memoir of Ted Osius, who served as American ambassador to Vietnam from December 2014 to November 2017, makes an important contribution to the understanding of the history of US-Vietnam relations. It offers an outstanding account of a rare transformational journey in history when the two peoples, formerly divided by bitter ideological differences and engaged in one of the most devastating wars of the twentieth century, found their way towards a spirit of reconciliation. The book provides valuable insights into how this reconciliation came about and the role that different actors in both countries played from the early 1990s onwards. The book also brings analysts and historians rich materials to study the evolution of US-Vietnam relations. Prominent examples include the behind-the-scenes stories related to the historical visit of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong to the United States in 2015, which Osius described as the most consequential accomplishment of his tenure, or the little-known details around President Barrack Obama's visit to Vietnam one year later.

Thanks to Osius' outstanding knowledge of Vietnamese history and culture, the book is also a good primer of Vietnam's recent history since its adoption of Doi Moi (renovation) in 1986. Based on his experience as an embassy staff member in Hanoi between 1996 and 1998, Osius provides a detailed account of how the United States and Vietnam began to re-engage during that decade, mainly through small-scale cooperation over legacy issues, including the search for missing American servicemen and the clean-up of unexploded ordnance. Much of it documents Osius' travels across Vietnam, his interactions with ordinary people, and the lessons he learned from the diplomats and politicians that he encountered.

The book also tells an inspiring story of how international diplomacy can create a better world by describing a 20-year journey of daring diplomacy that led not only to the reconciliation between the two former foes, but also the...

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