THE tragedy took place in the subtropical greenery of Southeast Asia, but it conveyed some of the pity and terror of the ancient Greek stage. A national hero, who had fought long and courageously against great odds, had finally been brought down by fate—fate in this case being a combination of his avowed enemies, his former friends and, undoubtedly, his own flawed nature. When he took office nine years ago, Ngo Dinh Diem told his people, "Follow me if I advance! Kill me if I retreat! Revenge me if I die!" In whatever manner and for whatever reason Diem died, it...

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