Nguyen Cao Ky Papers and the Vietnam War

Primary sources are incredibly valuable to historians studying specific topics.

Those who would like to understand the myriad of perspectives from the Vietnam War may wish to turn their gaze to the American Heritage Center.

Nguyen Cao Ky was the Prime Minister of Southern Vietnam in the 1960s; a sizeable portion of his correspondence, interviews, articles, and speech transcriptions are at the AHC.


Nguyen Cao Ky (center) wearing a contrasting suit, undated. Box 3, Nguyen Cao Ky Papers, American Heritage Center.

On paper and in speeches, Ky comes off as a highly intellectual, articulate, reserved man fighting on behalf of the anti-communists.

However, Ky’s reputation concerned the Americans that backed him. His reckless behavior, such as not abiding by uniform codes and threatening to kill subversives, created concern among his allies.


Ky with U.S. President Richard Nixon (left), undated. Box 3, Nguyen Cao Ky Papers, American Heritage Center.

Yet his insights, in hindsight, are invaluable. He believed the war was a result of the Vietnamese drive for independence, coupled with the divisiveness of the Geneva Agreement.

Ky’s testimonies give us valuable information about the Vietnamese perspective, including why Ky thought the war started and the preventative and offensive measures Southern Vietnam needed to take.

Discover this key player’s documents at the AHC for yourself.

– Post submitted by Alex Vernon, American Heritage Center assistant

This entry was posted in International Collections, International relations, military history, oral histories, Politics, Uncategorized, Vietnam War and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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