South Viet Nam: Joan or Lucrezia

Festively bedecked elephants, a troop of mounted horsemen and colorful floats paraded through the streets of Saigon last week. It was Women's Day, an occasion organized and supervised by South Viet Nam's most bitterly debated female, Madame Ngo Dinh Nhu. To some she is an Asian Joan of Arc, to others an Oriental Lucrezia Borgia.

A fragile-looking but tough-minded beauty of 38, Madame Nhu is the wife of President Ngo Dinh Diem's brother and closest brain-truster, serves as her bachelor brother-in-law's official First Lady. Around Madame Nhu and her husband swirls much of the opposition to Diem's regime. Critics blame their...

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