The Lives of Thomas A. Dooley, 1927-1961
The first major biography of the fabled “jungle doctor” of Southeast Asia
This book chronicles the life of Tom Dooley, the American doctor whose much-publicized exploits in Vietnam and Laos during the 1950s helped lay the ideological groundwork for the U.S. military intervention a decade later. The scion of an upper-middle-class St. Louis family, Dooley was an enormously complex and fascinating individual. He was a devoutly religious Roman Catholic as well as a self-styled playboy socialite, a devoted physician to the poor and a tireless propagandist for the "Vietnam Lobby," a shameless self-promoter and a closeted homosexual, a victim of Navy persecution and a beneficiary of CIA support. Dooley first gained notoriety as a young Navy doctor charged with overseeing the evacuation of Catholic refugees from North Vietnam in the wake of the 1954 Geneva Accords. His celebrity grew after his book Deliver Us from Evil, a fervently anticommunist account of his experiences, was serialized in Reader's Digest. By the end of the decade, as his name became associated (albeit mistakenly) with a ballad popularized by the Kingston Trio, he had achieved the status of "America's first pop star saint." In addition to exposing the roots of the Vietnam War, Dooley's story illuminates a broad range of developments in post-World War II United States culture—from the "Americanization" of Catholicism to the rise of the mass media.
"This is a quite extraordinary work, one which will be of great interest to historians of American religion, popular culture, and the Vietnam war. A first-rate and important biography."—Maurice Isserman, Hamilton College