From the Publisher: “Although most Americans paid little attention to Cambodia during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidency, the nation’s proximity to China and the global ideological struggle with the Soviet Union guaranteed US vigilance throughout Southeast Asia. Cambodia’s leader, Norodom Sihanouk, refused to take sides in the Cold War, a policy that disturbed US officials. From 1953 to 1961, his government avoided the political and military crises of neighboring Laos and South Vietnam. However, relations between Cambodia and the United States suffered a blow in 1959 when Sihanouk discovered CIA involvement in a plot to overthrow him. The coup, supported by South Vietnam and Thailand, was a failure that increased Sihanouk’s power and prestige and created new foreign policy challenges in the region.


“In Eisenhower and Cambodia, William J. Rust examines the United States’ efforts to lure Cambodia from neutrality to alliance. He conclusively demonstrates that, as with Laos in 1958 and 1960, covert intervention in the internal political affairs of neutral Cambodia proved to be a counterproductive tactic for advancing the United States’ anticommunist goals. Drawing upon recently declassified sources, Rust skillfully traces the impact of “plausible deniability” on the formulation and execution of foreign policy. His meticulous study not only reveals a neglected chapter in Cold War history, but also illuminates the intellectual and political origins of US strategy in Vietnam and the often-hidden influence of intelligence operations in foreign affairs.”



Bill Rust has made it his purpose to dig deep for explanations of the origins of the American war in Southeast Asia. In Eisenhower and Cambodia Rust shines a penetrating light on the murkiest corner of all, the impact of American actions on the neutralist nation of Cambodia and its Prince Norodom Sihanouk. Rust's account considerably advances our knowledge of Eisenhower's and Kennedy's actions in Cambodia. No student of the Vietnam war can afford to miss Eisenhower and Cambodia.


John Prados, author of Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945–1975



William Rust, author of two recent definitive books about American relations with Laos, now explores US relations with Cambodia during the Dwight Eisenhower administration. This is a careful, impressive, well written and researched diplomatic history that highlights the administration’s antipathy toward neutralism in the Cold War, which led it into ill-advised and self-defeating efforts to destabilize Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s government. It will stand as the authoritative work for many years to come.


Kenton Clymer, author of A Delicate Relationship: The United States and Burma/Myanmar since 1945



William Rust’s engaging book contributes significantly to our understanding of U.S.-Cambodian relations, the origins of the Vietnam War, and the role of covert operations in American foreign policy during the Cold War. As he does in his other books, Rust relies on extensive archival research to craft a gripping and accessible narrative that brings to life the characters on all sides of this complex story.


Jessica Elkind, author of Aid Under Fire: Nation Building and the Vietnam War



Rust’s brilliant account of the Eisenhower and Kennedy administration's attempt to leverage a recalcitrant Cambodian leader into a Cold War alliance reveals much about American diplomacy then and now. Extensively researched and exceptionally readable, this groundbreaking book discloses the often shadowy realities of what occurs when government officials from dissimilar cultures endeavor to bend each other to their will.


Walter E. Kretchik, author of U.S. Army Doctrine: From the American Revolution to the War on Terror



Rust’s books on the early years in Vietnam and Laos established him as the preeminent scholar of the period. Cambodia during this time frame remains overlooked. Thus the author's best book to date fills an important place in the literature. It is excellent scholarship written as always in the author’s deft style.


Joe P. Dunn, author of “I Have Done the Work”: The Times and Life of James Hutchison Kerr



A “masterful accomplishment.”


Elizabeth Becker, LSE Review of Books, January 16, 2017




“Like his previous diplomatic histories of the United States’ early efforts in Laos and South Vietnam, Rust’s study of the Eisenhower administration’s relationship with Cambodia is a valuable and compelling addition to our understanding of the roots of the Second Indochina War.”


Richard A. Ruth, The Journal of Military History, July 2017




“Eisenhower and Cambodia should not only be considered the standard work on US–Cambodia relations during this period, but it is also a highly useful text for understanding US foreign policy formulation during the Eisenhower years, Washington’s often fraught relationship with its anti-communist allies, and the limits of covert action.”


Jeffrey H. Michaels, International Affairs, January 2017




“Rust offers a thoroughly researched history of the relationship between the United States and Cambodia during the Eisenhower years…tells a fascinating story filled with political and military intrigue and covert action…[and] does an incredible job of re-creating the interactions of the Americans with the Cambodians.”


Sihanouk and the United States in the 1950s,” David M. Watry, H-Diplo,
August 31, 2016




“Rust has mastered the art of reviving the past…Eisenhower & Cambodia is particularly significant because the Eisenhower administration’s activities preceded much of the other actions related to the war and provided a foundation for what followed.”


Eisenhower & Cambodia by William J. Rust,” Henry Zeybel, The VVA Veteran,
August 19, 2016




The meticulous archival document and oral history research make this study the epitome of diplomatic history, and it highlights the role of covert actions in the country. Despite the detail and intricacy of the rendering, Rust’s deft writing and his development of the personalities involved make absorbing reading. The study broadens and deepens understanding of the complexity of the Indochina quagmire. It is essential for any serious student of the Vietnam War.”


Joe P. Dunn, Choice, October 2016




"Anyone interested in the complex and often violent birth pangs of post-World War Cambodia, its connection to the war in Vietnam and the rise of the Khmer Rouge will find Rust’s book of unparalleled appeal...The author uses a wide variety of sources, including diplomatic cables, oral testimonies, speech transcripts, newspaper articles and declassified files, to create a coherent and largely untold version of the diplomatic relations between Sihanouk’s Cambodia and the rest of the world, and most particularly the United States.”


Luke Young, Mekong Review, August 2016




Author Recounts US’ Frosty Ties to Sihanouk,” Ben Paviour, The Cambodia Daily, May 28, 2016



Red-Handed: Pinning the Blame for Dap Chhuon on the CIA,” Brent Crane, The Phnom Penh Post, June 3, 2016



Eisenhower & Cambodia,” Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times,

June 7, 2016



Q&A with William J. Rust, author of “Eisenhower and Cambodia: Diplomacy, Covert Action, and the Origins of the Second Indochina War,” Phy Sopheada, Voice of America Cambodia, October 22, 2016



Lessons We Failed to Learn from the Origins of the Second Indochinese War,” Ron Briley, History News Network, June 14, 2016



“These books explain so much about the relationship between the USA and

southeast Asian nations in the 1950s and early 1960s! Like all true stories, they are filled with startling revelations, disturbing covert activity, larger-than-life personalities, and diplomatic missteps.”


Book Bit, Doc Kirby, WTBF-AM/FM, Troy, Alabama, November 10, 2016

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